Government and industry unite on Mycoplasma bovis

  • Hon Damien O’Connor
Agriculture Biosecurity

Minister of Agriculture and Biosecurity Damien O’Connor today welcomed a joint Government and industry commitment to funding the Mycoplasma bovis outbreak response. 

Funding of $85 million for operational and compensation costs for the outbreak response, beginning 1 July 2017 to the end of the current financial year, was approved by Cabinet today. In December last year, $10M was approved. 

The Ministry for Primary Industries estimates that total operational costs of $35M and compensation liabilities of $60M will be required until a decision on whether or not to eradicate the disease is made. 

Since Mycoplasma bovis was found in July last year, MPI has spent $10M on the operational response and $2.5M on compensation claims.  

Industry bodies DairyNZ, Beef + Lamb New Zealand and the Meat Industry Association have committed $11.2M towards operational costs. 

“This is a sign of a healthy Government-industry relationship and allows us to continue to contain the disease to determine its full spread, keeping the option of eradication open until that decision is made in a few weeks,” says Mr O’Connor. 

“This has been a particularly challenging time for everyone and in particular those caught up in this disease. The animal tracing to determine the spread is ongoing and poor uptake of NAIT, especially for farm-to-farm animal movements, has slowed this work considerably.  

“I am heartened by the industry contribution as we work together to give ourselves the best possible shot of getting rid of this disease.” 

MPI’s work programme is driving to a decision on eradication being made in late March to early April – understanding the extent of the spread through the bulk milk testing and animal tracing is key to this. 

A significant piece of work is under way to look at the technical feasibility of eradication and cost benefit of eradication versus long-term management. Either option will require additional funding. 

Mr O’Connor has also asked officials to explore the feasibility and implications of making the North Island Mycoplasma bovis free, given the large majority of infected properties are in the South Island. 

There are currently 24 active infected properties (which are under movement restrictions). There have been 29 properties confirmed with infection since the response began but some have been amalgamated into one unit, or had restrictions lifted following depopulation and cleaning. 

A total of 42 properties are under Restricted Place notices (includes the infected properties), 54 on Notice of Direction and 741 under surveillance. A total of 51 compensation claims have been received with 10 paid in part or in full.