CORRECT: Mycoplasma bovis spread to Waikato 'shameful': Prime Minister
(Inserts dropped word 'not' in 4th paragraph, amends 3rd paragraph to reflect fix)
By Andrew Bevin
May 14 (BusinessDesk) - A Waikato farm has today tested positive for cattle disease Mycoplasma bovis, prompting Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern using her press conference today to say the spread of the disease in the North Island had left the new government ‘picking up the pieces of significant neglect and under investment’ and was ‘quite frankly shameful.’
“There was a system in place, it has failed abysmally and now we’re picking up the pieces of that, and we want to make sure that first and foremost we deal with the issue at hand, and that’s Mycoplasma bovis, to try to pin down its spread and still focus on the possibility of eradication, because why wouldn’t we strive to get the best outcome for the industry possible?” Ardern said.
However, she stopped short of saying eradication is a certainty.
"We're not giving up on all the options around eradication but we are assessing all the information as it comes to light," she said, in answer to a question on whether eradication or containment of the disease, was the government's policy aim.
Ardern said the Minister for Primary Industries, Damien O'Connor, was spending almost 100 percent of his time on the disease at the moment. "He’s giving me and the Minister of Commerce constant updates. We’re really prioritising this issue."
“Across the North Island there are spots where there are containment and movement notices around, but at this point it would be unfair for me to predetermine how far that spread is,” said Ardern.
In terms of the wider economic cost, farmers have already faced losing their livelihoods in culls to deal with the presence of Mycoplasma bovis.
The latest case of Mycoplasma bovis was confirmed on a farm in the Cambridge area, after first being found on cattle in a farm near Oamaru in 2017.