New field staff for Mycoplasma bovis eradication

Farmers listen intently to an MPI presentation

In an attempt to eradicate a disease-causing bacteria from cows, politicians and industry heads in New Zealand agreed on Monday to kill some 150,000 of the creatures.

Arden herself said she empathizes with the farmers who will have to undergo having all their cows slaughtered, but the government and cattle industry are in agreement that the long-term consequences of letting the disease spread far outweighs any incurred losses with the eradication plan.

Found in Europe and the USA, the bacteria can cause cows to develop mastitis, pneumonia, arthritis and other diseases. Authorities insist the decision is to stop future production losses and is unrelated to food safety.

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said she did not want to end up in a situation where she looked back and said "I could have tried harder".

"This is a tough time, and the pain and anguish [affected farmers] are going to go through is really disgusting", said Katie Milne, the organisation's president. The dairy herd of the country reportedly has around 6.6 million cows.

New Zealand's dairy sector contributes about NZ$7.8 billion annually to the country's gross domestic product and accounts for around a fifth of the country's exports.

The full cost of eradication over 10 years is projected to be $886 million.




Farming is vital to the economy in New Zealand, whose isolation has helped protect it from some diseases which affect herds elsewhere.

The ambitious plan will see 126,000 cattle slaughtered on top of the 26,000 already killed or earmarked for death.

"Newly appointed science adviser Dr John Roche has been tasked with researching new tools for the fight against Mycoplasma bovis".

The Mycoplasma bovis was reported in New Zealand for the first time in July, 2017. Some experts fear the decision will come at a huge cost.

However, many healthy cattle will also be killed in the cull.

"He will provide strategic science advice across MPI and his first task will be to head up a new Mycoplasma bovis Science Strategic Advisory Group".

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