New Zealand to kill 150000 cows to end bacterial disease

Randy Kelley
May 30, 2018

New Zealand, the world's biggest dairy exporter, will spend more than NZ$880 million ($610 million) in a bid to eradicate the mycoplasma bovis cattle disease, Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said on Monday.

Mycoplasma bovis can lead to conditions such as udder infection, pneumonia and arthritis in affected cattle, but does not pose a food safety risk or any risk to humans.

Together with farming leaders, the government has agreed to attempt the eradication of Mycoplasma bovis to protect the national herd and the long-term productivity of the farming sector. New Zealand exports milk in a large scale.

The disease causes a painful and untreatable illness in cattle and Damien O'Connor, agriculture and biosecurity minister, says there's only one shot to eradicate it.

Many healthy cows will also be killed.

The government will meet 68% of the cost, while farmers and the cattle industry will pay the rest, the New Zealand Herald reports.

Federated Farmers, an advocacy organisation, said there were some farmers who opposed the cull but authorities needed to try to address the bacteria before it was too late.

"No one ever wants to see mass culls". The nation would be spending near about NZ$800m (five hundred sixty million dollars) over about ten years in order to protect the dairy herd of New Zealand and secure the future dairy production of the nation's farming industry, which yields the nation the second largest profit. It has been found on about 40 farms so far, but 192 farms are likely to be involved in the culling. It has 6.6m dairy cows. "This is a necessary, unfortunate part of not having a test that clearly identifies the individual animals yet".

"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".

Although many cows are expected to be killed at processing plants and be used for beef, some may have to be killed and buried on farms or in specified landfills, AP reported.

Officials say they expect to know by the end of the year whether the eradication plan is working.

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