New initiatives to support M.bovis response

Minister for Biosecurity Damien O’Connor has unveiled a set of initiatives to support the Mycoplasma bovis response and improve farm biosecurity practices based on feedback from farmers and rural communities.

“Farmers have been attending the Mycoplasma bovis roadshow meetings in big numbers and are naturally interested in the response and changes that could be made to help them manage their on-farm biosecurity,” Damien O’Connor said.

“We have been listening to them and the Ministry for Primary Industries is making a number of changes that can be implemented quickly, without legislation.

“Some farmers have expressed frustration at not being formally told when a neighbour’s farm is identified as an Infected Property.

“MPI will start directly informing neighbouring farms of Infected Properties or high-risk properties. This will mean farmers can take appropriate steps to improve their on-farm biosecurity and reduce the risk to their own stock.

“This is a measured step that balances the privacy concerns of individuals with the need for farmers to protect their own farms.

“MPI will also publish a list of the NAIT numbers of all affected animals on its website. This includes all animals associated with or traced from an Infected Property.

 “This will give farmers better information to make informed decisions when purchasing new stock.

“MPI will also do more to ensure enforcement of the Animal Status Declaration (ASD) form. It is a legal requirement that the ASD form must accompany a consignment of cattle when a stock sale takes place.

“Farmers need to disclose the health history of their stock in the form and declare whether their farm is under any movement controls. They need to ensure they are completing the ASD form correctly and, along with greater compliance with NAIT, this will support our efforts to eradicate Mycoplasma bovis.

 “Regulation and legislation changes are also being considered, including:

  • Amending the Animal Products Act to add a new infringement offence for failing to use the ASD form correctly
  • Amending the NAIT Act to bring its search powers in line with the Search and Surveillance Act
  • New regulation to control the use of discarded milk

 “I am continuing to listen to feedback from farmers and will work with MPI and industry groups to consider further changes to support strengthened biosecurity practices and compliance in our rural communities,” Damien O’Connor said.