New Zealand Plans To Kill 150,000 Cows To Protect Economy

Mycoplasma bovis is the most severe economic biosecurity issue to hit New Zealand predicted to cost $1 billion over 10

GERALD PIDDOCK STUFF Mycoplasma bovis is the most severe economic biosecurity issue to hit New Zealand predicted to cost $1 billion over 10 years

"If we don't take this one chance, the disease will spread and the risk of it eventually affecting many of our herds is high", Poel wrote in a statement for DairyNZ. The plan was announced by the New Zealand government on Monday.

The initial outbreak led to concerns that the disease could affect market access for New Zealand's dairy products, and caused a brief dip in the New Zealand dollar.

Mycoplasma bovis has been detected on more than three dozen farms since it was first detected in New Zealand a year ago, leading to the slaughter of about 26,000 cattle. Found in Europe and the USA, the bacteria can cause cows to develop mastitis, pneumonia, arthritis and other diseases. Of this, $16 million is loss of production and is borne by farmers and $870 million is the cost of the response (including compensation to farmers).

"Our borders in particular make it possible, we do believe we are taking it on at a point that it is possible to eradicate, more than 99 per cent of farms do not have it, we want to protect them from having it". "And we have to support them as neighbors, community members, farmers, friends".

New Zealand is now home to around 10 million cows, two-thirds of which are dairy cows. The dairy herd of the country reportedly has around 6.6 million cows.

If successful, New Zealand would be the first country in the world to eradicate it.

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That puts the U.S. ahead of top exporter Saudi Arabia , and only Russian Federation pumps out more, at around 11 million bpd. This is primarily due to crude oil's surge to a 3½-year high on supply worries related to Venezuela and Iran .

The decision was taken to "protect the base of our economy - the farming sector", Ardern said.

Authorities are investigating how the bacteria arrived in New Zealand despite its strict biosecurity controls.

About 24,000 cows have already been killed in recent months and at least 128,000 more will have to be culled, most over the next year or two.

The decision was a "tough call" but had to be made because the alternative was the spread of the disease across the country, Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said.

"Spring testing this year will give us the opportunity to reassess the feasibility of eradication when results are in come February, as Mycoplasma bovis is at its most detectable after calving", said Damien O'Connor.

"But, as we see in droughts as well, we will get people [who] will suffer a disproportionate impact because they will be the ones who will have all the cash-flow pressure arising from having their stock culled, waiting for compensation, and then having to rebuild their herds", he said. It will only be clear by the end of year if the culling of the cows is working.

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