Affected farmer criticises handling of cattle disease

A dairy farmer whose herd is infected with Mycoplasma bovis feels let down by the Ministry for Primary Industries.

Leo Bensegues revealed his situation at a packed public meeting in the Morven Community Hall last night.

About 200 people crammed into the venue for the sixth meeting hosted by the ministry since the bacterial cattle disease was  discovered  on farms near Waimate in July.

Mr Bensegues asked ministry officials if they would change their biosecurity protocols if he could show they were not working.

Technical liaison officer Victoria Barrell assured him they would.

Mr Bensegues said he believed all boundaries between the eight infected dairy farms and their neighbours should have double fences erected to prevent any contact between cattle on either side.

The main way M. bovis was spread was through direct contact with infected animals, especially their mucus.

Dr Barrell said she did not want to dictate how farmers prevented nose-to-nose contact between cattle.

"I am asking you to change that rule to 100% double-fencing," Mr Bensegues said.

"I became infected. Who knows if I lose everything or not?"

Mr Bensegues, an Argentinian who has been in New Zealand for 13 years, said he had "perfect neighbours", but farm staff could easily make mistakes.

He had reported a cow’s ill-health as soon as he noticed it, but felt he did not get adequate support from the ministry when he tried to phone it.

Dr Barrell praised his efforts as "a community farmer — that’s what we’re relying on. I’ll take a hit on that."

After one farmer criticised the ministry’s handling of the outbreak, another said all farmers needed to take ownership of biosecurity.

"We beat brucellosis. We beat hydatids. We can do this!"

Spontaneous applause erupted.

Culling of 5000 cattle on the infected farms has begun and is expected to be finished by Christmas. Three compensation claims have been filed with the ministry, with the first payouts this week.


I think they are too slow these cattle should have been culled and burnt ...not put in the food chain as it slowed the process down.... because of this slowness its spread.

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