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It also finds the programme is on track to achieve a world-first eradication and has made recommendations to improve the wider biosecurity system.
The review found the programme, a partnership between the Ministry for Primary Industries (MPI), DairyNZ and Beef + Lamb New Zealand, had made many improvements after it was scaled-up to prevent spread of the disease.
M. bovis Governance Group independent chairman Kelvan Smith said the programme had come a long way, and had prevented the long-term financial and animal welfare costs of endemic M. bovis in herds.
“We’ve previously acknowledged the issues at the start of the programme and the independent review acknowledges that lessons have been learned and improvements made as the programme progressed.
“There’s no denying the disruption and stress experienced by farmers affected by the eradication programme and this review will help to ensure we have better systems and support in the future for disease responses.”
The review panel’s recommendations covered areas focused on responding to animal diseases — all of which MPI and its partners had accepted and were implementing.
MPI director-general Ray Smith said valuable lessons had been learned for future disease responses, and being applied to areas of work like the Foot and Mouth Disease Readiness Programme.
“The M. bovis programme has already led to changes across the biosecurity system. However, there’s always room to improve and the review panel’s recommendations will help us in the future.
“One of the key recommendations is that we all need to work more closely together to ensure the right capability and support is in place for people affected by a disease incursion.”
Review chairwoman Prof Nicola Shadbolt said the panel considered the evolution of the M. bovis programme from its start in 2017 to today.
“Our review was informed by the experiences of both farmers and those who worked in the programme. We acknowledge the significant impact the eradication has had on farmers and rural communities, as well as those working on the programme. A large number of people, including our farmers, worked incredibly hard to get to where we are now.’’