MPI response director fronts at Winton meeting

Ministry for Primary Industries (MPI) response director Geoff Gwyn fields questions at the Mycoplasma bovis meeting in Winton recently. Photo: Nicole Sharp
Ministry for Primary Industries (MPI) response director Geoff Gwyn fields questions at the Mycoplasma bovis meeting in Winton recently. Photo: Nicole Sharp
''Do we get it right all the time - no we don't, but we'll be accountable for that and we certainly try and do our best for you, especially you who are at the sharp end of this decision.''

Facing farmers in Winton recently after the Government's decision of ''phased eradication'' of Mycoplasma bovis, Ministry for Primary Industries (MPI) response director Geoff Gwyn acknowledged it had not been smooth sailing.

Mr Gwyn said he and his team were working round the clock in response to the disease, but there had been some issues.

In recent weeks, farmers had their backs up after comments Mr Gwyn made had appeared in the media, saying farmers had not been co-operating.

Mr Gwyn said the comments were part of a half-hour interview, snippets of which were used, and this did not portray the full story. However, he did not step away from all of those comments.

''I was referring specifically to some of the advertising which was done earlier this year around a property here in Winton and we got no people ringing us about that.''

He apologised to those who had rung their vets, or industry organisations, but said there were still incidents ongoing as recent as two weeks ago.

''I spoke to a farmer who said 'Oh yup, I took some stock from down there. I've been expecting you guys to knock on my door for the past two months.' Never thought to actually tell us.''

He was still trying to get the message out, not so much in the South Island, but further north, that people needed to come forward.

This was part of the reason behind new initiatives announced the same day of the meeting, in which MPI would list National Animal Identification and Tracing (Nait) numbers of animals it was trying to locate, Mr Gwyn said.

MPI had also made the decision to inform neighbours of infected properties or high-risk properties of their situation. This would mean farmers would be able to take appropriate steps to improve their on-farm biosecurity and reduce risk to their stock.

MPI will also do more to ensure enforcement of the Animal Status Declaration (ASD) form.

It is a legal requirement that the ASD form must accompany a consignment of cattle when a stock sale takes place.

All of these initiatives had come from feedback from farmers and comments made at roadshows and meetings, Mr Gwyn said.

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