Across the ditch the Kiwis have culled more than 50,000 cows. And 50,000 more may be in the firing line.
They’re not planning an epic barbecue. And it has nothing to do with New Zealand’s efforts to cap emissions to meet its Paris climate targets.
Instead, New Zealand hopes to become the first country to eliminate Mycoplasma bovis, a disease found in cattle.
Recently, Kiwi farmers have seen a growing number of suspected cattle infected with the disease. Lawmakers are now attempting something that no country has ever been able to do, and that’s mass-eradication of the disease. It will be costly to perform and therefore is part-government-funded.
While the disease does not pose any threat to humans or the milk and food we consume from infected cattle, it does have serious health concerns for the animal. The condition could cause abortions and pneumonia.
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New Zealand’s plan to eradicate Mycoplasma disease
The plan by the government to eradicate the disease seems to be on the right track, with expert feedback announced by ministers on Monday showing that the plan could work.
New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said:
‘At this stage I have confidence the approach we are taking to eradicate is the right one and we remain committed to this.’
In May it was announced that the decision to eradicate is feasible, and since then the technical advisory group to officials have stated on their report that ‘substantial progress’ has been made since then.
This positive news has given famers in New Zealand’s key dairy sector some hope.
Chris Leis, dairy chairman of the industry group Federate Famers’, said:
‘We are cautiously optimistic, and still have fingers and everything else crossed…
‘We certainly aren’t out of the woods yet.’
According to the Australian Associated Press, 51 properties have been cleared of infection, but there are still roughly 32 properties that are of concern around the country. To date, around NZ$34 million has been paid out to farmers.
As stated above, 50,000 cattle have already been culled this year, and on Monday ministers said that the figure could reach roughly 100,000. This is down for the 126,000 the government originally expected.
And while they’ve seen early success, officials believe that testing will continue until 2025.
Previously, only New Zealand and Norway were believed to be the only countries to not have encountered the disease.
Since 2006, Mycoplasma bovis has been a huge problem in Australia and is found in all dairy regions.
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