Top Scoops

Book Reviews | Gordon Campbell | Scoop News | Wellington Scoop | Community Scoop | Search


M Bovis has 'turned neighbour against neighbour'

Craig McCulloch, Political Reporter

Farmers are butting heads and turning on one another as stress takes its toll over the battle to contain the cattle disease Mycoplasma bovis.

The number of farms under question has accelerated over the past week from 129 to almost 300 properties, with 38 farms so far having been confirmed as infected.

Another 40 are considered highly likely to be infected.

About 11,000 cows have been killed so far, in an attempt to stop the spread of the cattle disease, and that number will rise to 22,000 by the end of the month.

Biosecurity Minister Damien O'Connor told Morning Report today about 60,000 cows were likely to be infected and were under scrutiny.

Federated Farmers dairy chair Chris Lewis said the uncertainty had caused a lot of stress for affected communities.

"It has turned neighbour against neighbour."

He said some farmers had lost their cool after discovering their neighbour was having cattle tested for the illness and had not told them.

"People are just under pressure and they don't react very well when they're under pressure."

Such behaviour was "just not warranted," Mr Lewis said, but he encouraged farmers to be upfront with their neighbours as there was a risk that livestock could pass the disease over a boundary fence.

"It's not something to be ashamed of. Just about all the farmers who've got it - they've done nothing wrong. They've probably got it by accident," he said.

"It's tough. There are no easy solutions, but these days you've got to support your fellow farmers. We're all in it together to get rid of this."

Southland farmer Bevan Collie said he understood the ill feeling and tension within communities.

"There'd be some frustration ... if you had a neighbour that was blasé to the disease and you're next door and you're not blasé to it."

Ashburton farmer whose cows are affected by Mycoplasma bovis is experiencing firsthand the emotional impact of the disease. Frank Peters says the culling is becoming senseless duration 5:20 - from Morning Report

Click a link to play audio (or right-click to download) in either
MP3 format.

However, Mr Collie said neighbours had to rally together. He has set up a support group for farmers and vets in the Southland region.

"Something like M bovis will be putting a lot of pressure behind some farmers and their systems ... neighbours just need to be mindful of that."

Biosecurity officials yesterday told MPs that efforts to wipe out Mycoplasma bovis had been hampered by a minority of farmers selling cattle on the black market.

Mr Lewis had a stark message for those farmers whose behaviour "hadn't been top-notch".

"Some individuals will need to pull up their socks and sort their shit out - or get out of the industry."

'Casual approach' to animal tracing made things worse - Minister

Mr O'Connor told Morning Report his focus was still on eradicating the disease if possible, but it was becoming more challenging.

He said the situation had been made worse by some farmers' "casual approach" to the animal tracing system, and the cow disease showed why a better was needed.

"I think each and every farmer now understands why we need a system that works and functions effectively so that you can go and push a button ... and work out where animal movements have gone.

"Relying on farmers' memory and notebooks has complicated this."

"It's a difficult difficult situation for all the farmers and for the staff involved" - Damien O'Connor duration 6:03 - from Morning Report

Click a link to play audio (or right-click to download) in either
MP3 format.

"It's a very unfortunate and difficult situation, we have absolute sympathy for every farmer involved in this.

"It's something that no government, no country wants to deal with."

© Scoop Media

Top Scoops Headlines


Gordon Campbell: On Why We Should Be Anxious About Artificial Intelligence

Frankly, the prospect of possibly losing half the existing forms of paid employment to AI does make me feel extremely anxious, given the indifference shown by central government to the downstream social damage caused by the reform process last time around... More>>


Binoy Kampmark: Tom Wolfe The Parajournalist

As New Journalism’s primary advocate, Tom Wolfe headed the field with such experimental forces as Norman Mailer, Truman Capote and Hunter S. Thompson, all dedicated to enriching supposedly factual accounts with excessive flourishes that hurried out the beige in favour of the kaleidoscopic. More>>

Gordon Campbell: On Racism And The Windsors

For all the talk about the modernizing effect that Meghan Markle could have on the Royal Family, the suspicion all along has been that the House of Windsor is resistant to change at any level beyond the purely decorative. More>>

Gordon Campbell: On Prospects Of US Talks With North Korea

On June 12, the leaders of North Korea and the United States will meet across a table in Singapore, and Kim Jong Un must already be feeling giddy at the thought that this meeting is already being described with the word “summit” formerly reserved for meetings between superpowers of equal stature... Image: Steve Bolton NZ's contribution to the IAEA’s work on North Korea

  • United Nations - UN chief ‘optimistic’ over peace efforts
  • David Swanson - Enough is Enough. The Time Has Come to BDS the US - Peace Comes to Korea: Let’s Understand Why
  • CTBTO - CTBTO on North Korea
  • NZ Govt - NZ welcomes talks between North and South Korea
  • Massey University - Nukes to cyber war – NZ security in focus
  • Jim Miles - The Doomsday Machine - Confessions of a Nuclear War Planner
  • UNHCHR - North Korea detente: UN expert urges human rights opening
  • Binoy Kampmark - Trump, North Korea and Post-Olympic Angst
  • Gordon Campbell: On National’s Latest Attempts At Relevance

    Having ignored the existence of massive problems in health and education for nine years in government, it is no longer politically viable for National to maintain the pretence that such problems really don’t exist, or are somehow unworthy of serious concern by rational men of commerce.... More>>