New field staff for Mycoplasma bovis eradication

The fight against Mycoplasma bovis is escalating with 50 more staff, a new field HQ and the appointment of a science adviser, says Agriculture Minister Damien O’Connor.

“Today 25 new Incident Control Point managers enter the field after completing training yesterday.

“These case managers are appointed to work one-on-one with affected farmers under movement controls. They support farmers with information and advice on the practical aspects of the controls.

“A further 25 will undergo training in coming weeks, greatly boosting capacity to help those farmers affected by the disease.

“The 50 new Incident Control Point staff are on top of the 250 at the Ministry for Primary Industries (MPI) already undertaking this work. MPI’s compensation team was also recently increased from 22 to 30 and is expected to double in size as the response progresses.

“MPI has also opened a new Field HQ in Cambridge.

“Newly appointed science adviser Dr John Roche has been tasked with researching new tools for the fight against Mycoplasma bovis.

“Dr Roche has a PhD in ruminant nutrition from the National University of Ireland and has most recently worked as a principal scientist at DairyNZ and adjunct professor in animal science at Lincoln University.

“He will provide strategic science advice across MPI and his first task will be to head up a new Mycoplasma bovis Science Strategic Advisory Group.

“There has been little international investment in science around this disease so the group will look into testing developments to detect Mycoplasma bovis in individual cows, grow understanding of the disease and identify opportunities to support the New Zealand eradication operation.

“With his background in Ireland, where Mycoplasma bovis is widespread, Dr Roche will be ideally placed to lead this work,” says Damien O’Connor.