Outbreak costs 'work in progress'

Nathan Guy.
Nathan Guy.
Who will pay for what is the latest talking point in the Mycoplasma bovis outbreak.

Last week, National's Agriculture spokesman Nathan Guy said there were reports from the cattle industry the Government was asking industry to front up to 50% of the Mycoplasma bovis costs.

''The Government Industry Agreement (GIA), that the National government established in 2013, set out a framework for cost-sharing between the government of the day and various industry groups as and when biosecurity incursions arise,'' Mr Guy said.

''The cost-share for any particular incursion - whether it's fruit fly or Mycoplasma bovis - is agreed between Ministry for Primary Industries (MPI) and the signatories to the deed. So far 16 primary sector organisations have signed up to the GIA, and it is endorsed by farmers and growers around the country.''

Clutha-Southland MP and National associate spokesman for agriculture Hamish Walker said the $11.2 million given by the cattle industry for initial funding was done so without precedence, but assuming the GIA was the model for cost-sharing.

''I'm calling on the Minister to fairly fund the Government's response without passing the buck to farmers.''

Minister for biosecurity Damien O'Connor said the Government was working shoulder-to-shoulder with the industry to determine a fair partnership for the Mycoplasma bovis response which includes who will pay what.

''Eradication has always been the aim as long as it's possible because New Zealand's primary sector deserves every last chance to be rid of this disease now and into the future.''

''Any option - rapid eradication, phased eradication, long-term management or stopping Government assistance will cost money and it must be a fair deal for all.''

''Warrants are out for the collection of items in relation to the Mycoplasma bovis outbreak. If we find the pathway, and someone has acted illegally, they will feel the full force of the law.''

The principle of the Government Industry Agreements was good - where the Government and industry share the decision-making and costs involved with an incursion, Mr O'Connor said.

''Two key livestock players, BLNZ and DairyNZ, are not signed up and we have been having respectful, free and frank discussions about how to manage this disease.''

''Political scare-mongering, in an attempt to sabotage our response effort, is not helpful, but it does not distract me or the industry from our important work in managing Mycoplasma bovis.''

Beef + Lamb New Zealand policy and advocacy general manager Dave Harrison said the industry group was in ongoing discussions with the Government about managing the spread of Mycoplasma bovis and relative contributions by industry.

''It is inappropriate for us to comment on the details of these, but we are approaching the discussions from the perspective of contributions being proportionate to the impact of the disease on the sector.''

DairyNZ chief executive Tim Mackle said the cost-sharing agreement for funding biosecurity, generally, in to the future was at present a work in progress and part of a discussion between Government and industry.

''Until this process is finalised we can't comment on the outcome. We are working closely with other sector partners, MPI and Minister O'Connor on how we manage the Mycoplasma bovis disease going forward, and funding is obviously a key consideration to that. Biosecurity is a priority for our farmers and for New Zealand's ability to farm.''


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