New Zealand to slaughter 150,000 cows in record cull

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New Zealand is aiming to be the first country in the world to eradicate Mycoplasma bovis from its shores after the Government yesterday unveiled an $886 million plan to eliminate the disease.

Cabinet's decision to opt for eradication of Mycoplasma bovis from New Zealand is a bold one and probably the right one, but will involve a lot of anguish and pain for farmers and must be closely scrutinised right through the programme.

The New Zealand government is expected to foot two-thirds of the hefty $560 million tab, while the cattle industry will pay the remainder.

The Government will meet 68 percent of the cost, while DairyNZ and Beef+Lamb New Zealand will meet 32 percent. Some experts fear the decision will come at a huge cost.

In Ashburton, some farmers are anxious that eradicating Mycoplasma bovis will disproportionately hurt their herds through culling. The bacteria is not harmful to humans and does not pose a threat to food safety.

"The decision to eradicate the disease is driven by the government's desire to protect national livestock from the disease and protect the basis of the economy, the livestock sector", said Jacinda Ardern.

Erin VanDyke lives on her family farm and has more than 35 years of hands-on experience with the use of livestock guard dogs for predator control.

"This is a tough time, and the pain and anguish [affected farmers] are going to go through is really disgusting", she said.

We're calling on rural communities to support each other, especially affected farmers and those that appear to be finding it hard. "We do believe we are taking it on at a point that it is possible to eradicate and more than 99% of farms don't have it and we want to protect them from having it". "So if we have an opportunity to be the country that eradicates this disease, then we'll take it".

Last week the country's biggest dairy company Fonterra, pitched its opening farmgate milk price for the 2018/19 season at $7.00 per kg of milksolids - one of its highest yet. This means more skilled people will be able to work directly with affected farmers.

Those included finding the disease was more widespread than surveillance and modelling anticipated, or a property was found that predated the earliest known infection of December 2015.

To not act at all is estimated to cost the industry $1.3 billion in lost production over 10 years, with ongoing productivity losses across our farming sector.

- An improved compensation claim process. Of this, $698 million is the loss of production borne by farmers and $520 million of response costs.