Network formed to fight M. bovis effects

Farmers and farming families struggling to deal with the impact of mycoplasma bovis (M. bovis) on their lives have been offered a community lifeline.

This will come in the form of a new group of agency representatives from rural, health and local government sectors who will be working to understand the district’s preparedness as well as what the implications are to farmers, service providers, stock and the community from the disease.

In announcing the formation of the new group, Ashburton Mayor Donna Favel said that the Ashburton District was the largest singularly affected territorial authority of M. bovis.

“It has inflicted a great deal of stress and uncertainty for our people, and we each recognised that something more needed to be done to help support our farmers during this time of need,” she said.

The new group is made up of representatives from MPI, Federated Farmers, Dairy NZ, Beef & Lamb NZ, Rural Support Trust Mid Canterbury, Vet Ent, and the Ashburton Hospital.

It will form a network aimed at improving the way information is shared to help address potential and ongoing concerns around the disease.

Its objective is to help facilitate discussions between Ministry for Primary Industries (MPI) and relevant organisations to ensure information is consistently shared in a timely and targeted manner with the district’s farming community, Favel said.

“I’m very pleased that leaders in our agricultural and health industries have come together to discuss what is happening out in the community, what directives MPI have for farmers and how that information is effectively shared,” she said.

“At the time of the Christchurch earthquakes, I recall that farmers had their Farmy Army and were in boots and all, trying to help others, but now it is our time to return that community support.”

The group was formed following a meeting held by MPI in the district on April 23 after  MPI had announced that the M. bovis programme was increasing activity in the lead up to autumn and winter stock movements to limit the risk of the disease spreading, she said.

“It is planned that the group will help to facilitate a united front among our respective organisations as efforts to eradicate M. bovis continue.”

– By Sue Newman