‘M.bovis’ costs may exceed $100 million

Nathan Guy
Nathan Guy
Compensation payouts to farmers as a result of the Mycoplasma bovis outbreak could cost the Government more than $100 million, National Party primary industries spokesman Nathan Guy believes.

The Ministry for Primary Indsutries will not reveal how much it has already paid in compensation.

The number of properties confirmed as being infected with the disease has risen to 23, with the latest properties in Southland and the Waitaki district, the Ministry for Primary Industries confirmed.

Eleven of those are in North Otago and South Canterbury, seven in Southland, two in Mid Canterbury and one each Hawke’s Bay, Canterbury and Otago.

The number of properties issued with restricted place notices was now 48.

M. bovis is a bacterial disease that can cause serious conditions in cattle, including mastitis that does not respond to treatment, pneumonia, arthritis and late-term abortions.

In response to questions about his belief that the value of compensation payouts might exceed $100 million, Mr Guy said the figure was based on his own estimates.

"Calculations carried out by myself by considering the scope of the costs to farmers affected led me to this figure, although it is likely the number will be higher."

While he supported eradication, Mr Guy was concerned about what he called a "lack of clarity" being shown by Minister for Agriculture and Rural Communities Damien O’Connor.

"He hasn’t given a proper plan for eradication. Culling has stopped while the disease continues to be identified on new farms ..."

A ministry spokeswoman confirmed affected farmers in Otago and South Canterbury had received compensation payments but she would not say how much had been paid out, for privacy reasons. She did confirm those paid compensation included South Canterbury farmers Aad and Wilma van Leeuwen, the owners of the farm near Glenavy where the disease was first discovered.

Mr O’Connor told Southern Rural Life late last week MPI was working to trace the spread of the disease.

"We are trying to work on a way of eradicating it if possible. I’m not even going to contemplate if not, because that should be the sole focus of everyone — to identify how far it has spread, then contain, and then eradicate if possible."

Mr O’Connor confirmed MPI will a public campaign encouraging farmers to report any at-risk animal movements that are not captured in recording systems such as Nait.

"Despite the complexity, we remain committed to getting rid of Mycoplasma bovis if at all possible. We know we’re up against a hard deadline.

"It is vital farmers who have purchased animals they believe might be at risk, and who have not been contacted by MPI already, get in touch with the response team immediately on 0800-809-966. We need this information to locate any infection out there and get rid of it. It is crucial for the future livelihoods of all New Zealand dairy and beef farmers."

Affected farmers can claim compensation where MPI’s exercise of legal powers, under the Biosecurity Act 1993, has caused them a verifiable loss, either as a result of damage to, or destruction of, the person’s property, or restrictions imposed on the movement or disposal of a person’s good, the MPI has said.


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