Govt committed to Mycoplasma bovis eradication; $25.6M spent to date
By Rebecca Howard
Oct. 9 (BusinessDesk) - The government has paid $25.6 million in compensation claims related to Mycoplasma bovis and remains committed to phased eradication, said Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern and Biosecurity Minister Damien O'Connor.
One of the biggest challenges for farmers has been navigating the compensation process and Ardern and O'Connor announced a new recovery package aimed at making that easier.
The package includes a team of rural professionals who understand both farming and the compensation process who can sit down and work with farmers on their claims. The Ministry for Primary Industries has also produced an improved compensation form and guide and an online calculator of milk production losses. It will also provide regional recovery managers for key areas.
"I know it’s been an extremely tough time for many farmers,” Ardern said. “Losing herds, pets and years of stock genetics built up over decades is an incredible hit to take for New Zealand’s one shot to protect our national herd and economic base."
The government opted to attempt phased eradication last May, nearly a year after the disease was first detected in New Zealand. The estimated cost was $886 million over 10 years and phased eradication involves ongoing depopulation of any infected properties.
According to the government, of New Zealand’s 24,000 farms, 74 have been infected to date with 36 subsequently de-stocked and cleared of Mycoplasma bovis. All the infected properties remain linked to a single strain of the disease and the government remains "committed to phased eradication, which is progressing well, and to helping farmers get back to business,” Ardern said.
O'Connor was quoted by Radio New Zealand as saying the eradication process was well underway, and he expects a proper update on whether it was proving successful by Christmas.
As of Oct. 5, the government had received 387 claims and had completed or made part payments on 169. The remainder are claims where MPI is awaiting information from the claimant, claims under assessment, pending assessment or awaiting sign out, an MPI spokesperson said. It also includes claims that are on hold, withdrawn or declined.
The total value of the claims assessed so far is $35.5 million. Each claim has to go through a rigorous assessment and verification process, which can take time, a ministry spokesperson said. A total of 216,029 tests had been carried out and 43,004 animals culled.
According to the latest data, there are currently 38 infected properties, 32 on the South Island and 6 on the North Island.
There are 211 properties under "notice of direction," which restricts the movements of animals and goods off a farm which has likely received cattle from an infected farm and where testing is underway. There are also 343 farmers under "assessment," where there is a risk of Mycoplasma bovis and testing is also underway.
The ministry noted that only a small portion of farms under assessment will go on to be placed under a Restricted Place notice and even fewer will be confirmed as infected properties. For example, only around 30 percent of all properties issued a Notice of Direction are confirmed infected, the MPI spokesperson said.