Farmers should trust Government’s M bovis plan – Federated Farmers

The AM Show 31/05/2018

A farming expert says all those affected by Mycoplasma bovis can do is stop blaming themselves and trust the Government knows what it's doing.

"We do have to give them the benefit of the doubt that they are taking the right action," Mid-Canterbury Federated Farmers president Michael Salvesen said.

"If they thought it was less than that they wouldn't be doing what they are doing."

The Government announced it would attempt to become the first country in the world to eradicate the disease. The decision means another cull of 126,000 cows on top of the 22,000 cows already being culled.

Agriculture Minister Damien O'Connor told reporters on Wednesday that the Government has a "better than a 50 percent chance that [eradication] will be successful".

The comment came after a public meeting in the region with more than 800 farmers, who wanted to hear more details on the plan and also express their concerns the Ministry of Primary Industries' handling of the situation.

MPI, which is heading the effort to eradicate M bovis, has been criticised for its lack of communication with farmers at the frontline.

Mr Salvesen told The AM Show while the Ministry has "done the right things at the right times", it has been lost in translation.

"Between the top people at MPI and the bottom people who deal with the farmers... the information got lost in between.

"I think we're a bit clearer from [Wednesday] night. I think we're not clear enough yet. They're trying really hard but I think they find it really difficult to move in the way that other people move because they're a Government department."

On Tuesday MPI director Geoff Gwyn told The AM Show he's learning more "every day".

"So if you're to say, did we make mistakes earlier on? Hindsight's a wonderful thing and maybe we did."

Mycoplasma bovis does not infect humans and it's not a food safety risk. It spreads fast within herds through cow-to-cow contact, and if the bacteria sheds from the cow it can survive in optimum conditions for 50 days. Disinfection kills it.

It has been detected at more than 30 farms across the country, but that number is likely to grow significantly.

The total cost of eradication will be $870 million over 10 years, with $278 million to be paid by DairyNZ and Beef + Lamb New Zealand.

It is not known how the disease first came to the country, and Mr Salvesen says farmers need to stop blaming themselves if their stock is affected.

"It's important to stress that if you get caught up in it it's no fault of your own. So the community really needs to pull together on this.

"People may allege that somebody brought it in but we don't know that yet and if there's been some trading it's certainly not being spread deliberately. We know all that."

Watch the full video above.

The AM Show with Duncan Garner, Amanda Gillies and Mark Richardson, weekdays 6-9am on RadioLIVE and streaming live to the rova app on Android and iPhone..