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Government foot and mouth simulation exercise

Whole of government foot and mouth simulation exercise

A table-top exercise simulating a foot and mouth outbreak in New Zealand is to be held on 19 December to test co-ordination arrangements between ministers and senior officials.

Derek Belton, Director of Animal Biosecurity for the Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry (MAF) said the exercise provides an opportunity to identify any possible shortcomings in the way the Government as a whole would respond during such a national crisis.

“It is vitally important that we are able to test our capability in advance of having to deal with an actual disaster.

“This involves testing how the different departments would be involved in managing an outbreak of foot and mouth interact and seeing what improvements can be made”, he said.

The exercise is being jointly organised by the Department of Prime Minister and Cabinet and MAF as part of the of the Domestic and External Security Coordination (DESC) structure, which includes MAF, Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade, NZ Defence Force, Police, Treasury, Reserve Bank and other agencies.

The DESC structure is the management model that is engaged whenever a whole of government approach is needed for the successful management of crisis situations.

An outbreak of foot and mouth disease was chosen as the scenario for the exercise because of the huge impact the disease would have on our economy and the number of agencies that would be involved in the response.

It has been estimated that an outbreak of the disease could cost the country up to 8 percent of our Gross Domestic Product and would result in all exports of meat, animal by-products, wool and dairy products stopping until three months after the last identified case, or new supply contracts have been negotiated.

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