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Farmers left in limbo as Mycoplasma Bovis takes hold

1 March 2018

Farmers left in limbo as Mycoplasma Bovis takes hold

With just one month to go until a decision will be made, farmers will understandably be left confused and anxious about whether the Government is going to eradicate the crippling cattle disease Mycoplasma Bovis, National’s Primary Industries spokesperson Nathan Guy says.

Ministry for Primary Industries (MPI) officials appeared before the Primary Productions Select Committee at Parliament this morning to answer questions about how the Government plans to contain the spread, compensate farmers for their losses and ultimately to eradicate it.

“The clock is ticking and we’ve been left with more questions than answers. Farmers are still in the dark about whether MPI’s priority is to eradicate the disease or to seek ‘other methods’. We’ve no idea what those ‘other methods’ might be,” Mr Guy says.

“The costs to contain and eradicate the disease are piling up. Because the Government’s finances are so tight due to its other big-spending commitments, MPI has been forced to go cap in hand to the industry itself to cover operation costs – but they can’t or won’t say how much they’re asking for.

“The Government is remaining very tight-lipped about what it’s prepared to compensate farmers for the losses they’ve incurred because they’ve had to destroy cattle or because they can’t sell stock.

“MPI tells us they’ve budgeted $35 million for compensation – but they now believe their liability is looking like a further $65 million.

“It is imperative that affected farmers lodge a claim for compensation. So far it seems that of the 1500 properties considered to be ‘trace’ properties, just 51 have made claims for compensation.

“Of those 51, just 10 have been made in full or in part so I’m urging all affected farmers to lodge a claim and get themselves in the system,” Mr Guy says.

Bio-security spokesperson Barbara Kuriger says the lack of clarity means farmers are now fearing the worst with many bearing the brunt of this crisis financially.

“Last week in Parliament the Minister, Damien O’Connor, said he had requested Cabinet for extra funding to combat the disease, but we now know that the $9.3 million he was referring to was already set aside in August last year by the previous National Government. The Minister hasn’t provided any evidence whatsoever to suggest he has requested much needed additional money for biosecurity.”

“The rural community deserves better than the dismissive attitude being displayed by this Government at such a stressful time for so many farmers,” Mrs Kuriger says.

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