The Prime Minister says Cabinet, and Primary Sector officials, agree they have ‘one shot’ to eradicate the cattle bacterial disease and is expecting it to cost almost $1 billion

The Prime Minister says Cabinet, and Primary Sector officials, agree they have ‘one shot’ to eradicate the cattle bacterial disease and is expecting it to cost almost $1 billion

The Government will attempt to eradicate the Mycoplasma bovis cattle disease and will foot the bill for almost 70% of $900 million the process is expected to cost.

But the Ministry of Primary Industries (MPI) still does not know where the disease came from.

In a media conference at Federated Farmers headquarters in Wellington, Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern called it an “ambitious plan.”

She says the choice to eradicate M Bovis was to “protect the national herd and the long-term productivity of the farming sector.”

No country which that has dealt with the disease – which is everywhere but Norway – has ever successfully eradicated it.  

But, as the disease has been identified early, the likelihood of being able to eradicate it is increased.

Although officials think there is “a very good shot” at full eradication, ridding the country of M bovis is not a 100% guarantee.

Ardern says New Zealand has “one shot” at eradicating the disease from the country.

The phased eradication will take one to two years, MPI officials say.

Estimates put the number of cattle that will need to be culled at almost 130,000 – that’s on top of the 26,000 that have been culled so far.

A large number of those won’t be infected, but the cull must occur to limit the spread.

The decision was made collectively by the Government and the farming sector after months of analysis to best understand the impact.

“Today’s decision to eradication is driven by the Government’s desire to protect the national herd from the disease and protect the base of our economy – the farming sector,” Ardern says.

Speaking with the affected farmers in recent week, she says it’s obvious the disease has taken a toll.

MPI does not expect any ramifications on trade as a result of today’s decision.  

Ardern says the alternative to eradication is to risk the spread of M bovis across the national herd.

She has sought the advice of overseas experts from countries such as Ireland – where the disease has been present for decades.

She says the experts told her that, as M bovis had been detected early, there was a chance of eradication,

Minister of Biosecurity Damien O’Conner says all parties agreed if there was a chance to get rid of the disease, it should be taken.

“It’s the only chance we’ll get.”

He called it a “wake up call” to New Zealand and said he will be working to upgrade biosecurity laws to make sure this can’t happen again.

The cost of the phased eradication is expected to be $886 million over the next decade.

The Government will stump up 68% of that cost, with DairyNZ and Beef+Lamb NZ meeting the other 32%.

Ardern says the Budget was specifically designed so these sorts of fiscal hits could be absorbed. But it is unclear where exactly the Government’s part of the payment will come from.

The alternative option, long-term management, was projected to cost $1.2 billion.

Almost $700 million of which would have been through lost production and $520 million would have gone towards the cost of response.

Ardern says to not act at all would have likely cost the industry $1.3 billion in lost production over the next decade.

The phased eradication will involve:

  • Culling all cattle on all infected properties, along with cattle on most restricted properties.
  • All infected farms found in future will also be depopulated
  • Following depopulation, farms are disinfected and will lie fallow for 60 days after which they can be restocked.
  • Intensive active surveillance, including testing and tracing, will continue to detect infected herds
  • There will be some flexibility for farmers in the timing of culling to offset production losses.
  • An improved compensation claim process – MPI says a substantial part of a farmer’s claim for culled cows should now take 4-10 days, with a full verified claim taking 2-3 weeks.

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Hope they don't screw this up, it's going to cause a lot of heartache. No other country managed to eradicate it, so whats special about us?

Between the devil and the deep: D-day for Mycoplasma bovis call

Overseas dairy rivals are "laughing their heads off" as the Government kills New Zealand's cows in an overblown reaction to the discovery of Mycoplasma bovis, says the invader cattle disease's first known victim, Aad van Leeuwen.

Screw up or economic sabotage?

The Banks holding Mortgages over farms will take the biggest hit

Wow, this is a gutsy call, because if eradication does not happen then the ongoing cost of management will still apply. I think I have to take my hat off to them for making the tough call, but it must have been hard to do, it's damned sad. Hopefully from it will come a more extensive, less stressful way of farming animals, can I expect to stop seeing bony cows standing up to their hocks in cold mud, not a blade of grass in sight or staggering their way to the milking shed, please let that be so.

Soooo from the perspective of a beef and lamb fattener. This is horrendous. And just goddam madness.

decisions made by people with, 'no skin in the game'

Reads to me like the big guys (DairyNZ, Fed Farmers, Beef & Lamb) supported eradication. And why wouldn't they when the Government is paying for 2/3rds of the estimated compensation bill?

There is going to be one hell of a lot of monitoring and enforcement necessary to amend/improve current practice - including that LSBers have to be brought into that monitoring regime.

Was speaking to a student of mine from a family of professional breeders of cattle. They rarely sold calves via the yards and most calves went off the property without Nait registration. When asked what she thought the effect would be on their business should they end up with Mbovis in their herd - she said it would ruin them.

So, the cost of compliance with Nait will be being re-thought by a lot of farm owners/managers, I suspect.

Good luck to us all... hope MPI is up to it.

I'm not buying cattle without a tag and I don't anyone that does, it would be such a hassle, if they sell to the works they have to have a tag.

Professional cattle breeders would not sell stock untagged. That would be the unprofessional type.

Its not only the small farmers that are the 'unprofessional' ones Belle.
I bought calves off the biggest landowner in my district, One of the 'big' farming families. The calves were tagged alright, they just weren't scanned in. They were turned loose into a 200 acre scrub block before we found out.

Thats not what I said. Unprofessional does not mean small. Same as you....very very large maori block handy to me, I had to beg for tags month after month, then they gave me their heifer id tags. From what I hear the corporates are the worst.

Is the same the case for homekill operations? Only 130 of the 381 listings for beef cattle on TradeMe today mention Nait tagged in their product descriptions. Doesn't mean the balance aren't tagged but in future it will become harder to sell them without, I'm sure.

You can't sell any animal through an agent, or send it to a meat processor or to the saleyards without a tag. And by far the easiest time to tag an animal is while it is small. No proper farmer would buy lines of cattle without tags - too much hassle. A couple for homekill is a different story.

Read my comment above. Having a tag in its ear doesn't mean its on the register.

Doris, I was in Ireland recently talking to a beef farmer about Origin Green. Every animal has to go through an approved channel. If a cattle beast/calf dies - it has to be sent to a knackery and the knackery has to send the id info on to the id database - no burying cattle on farm anymore. If you do a home kill it has to go to an approved abbatoir/home kill butcher who has the responsibility to send the id info on. So farmers have the responsibility to initially tag & register every animal - dead or alive on farm. Then the downstream processors etc have the responsibility to forward information on every animal they handle. There would need to be a paradigm shift in the way cattle are handled in some sectors in NZ for this to happen.

CO, have i really underestimated how bad MPB is going to be? If it's been here 4 years then i would have thought the infected farms would have been talking about serious disruption to their farm systems but I have heard nothing.
If it's this bad will they shut down calf rearers?

I mentioned concrete sealer in reply to one of your questions earlier.
If you do want to use it, carefully check the safe handling procedures. I seem to remember that some of those class of chemicals can be very nasty.

I get that, but surely in the long run if eradication can be achieved, it would be for the better.

Could you be more specific Belle?
Which practices need to change in order to continue and what will be the costs?

calf rearers are going to have to change, perhaps they will send out cease and desist orders.


I have said this a number of times here. Just in my instance MPI have been useless. I have a forward contact animal. The farm it came from has had stock in the local sale the last couple of times I have been there. Over 100 cattle from this other farm have gone to several different farms. If its happened once, this could be repeated 3000 times over for all the other farms similar to me and my 'contact' farm. There is no shutdown or lockdown of forward traced stock. Its all bullshit. MPI are fast asleep on the job. So I got an animal from a suspect property. 20 actually in total. No one has put their hand up and said dont sell anything store. We are going into winter. Time to destock a bit. Luckily for mpi I take my stock to killable weights. They all go to the works. But there will be farms everywhere selling stock store at sales or in the paddock. They will move all over the country dispersing bovis. This is all bullshit. A neighbour of mine was rung...same thing...he told them to piss off. He will have had grazers going home in the last few weeks. What more can I say. Its bullshit

are you putting those killable cattle on a truck?


Yes, MPI noted that;

High-risk animal movements have been traced to 3000 farms. About 300 properties are in biosecurity lockdown and 858 are under surveillance.

Passive resistance is good, Im reminded of the bluegrass people of the US and their whiskey stills...anything is possible.
And the folk of Gore for that matter...they distilled pure poison I believe.


Yes PA that is the rub. An old cliche to be true, but prevention is the best cure. Another old fashioned term was animal husbandry. Is it that, despite all the technological and mechanical advances, and degrees available from the agricultural colleges, the drive for profits has overridden good stock practices, and if so, might this outbreak not then recur?

You don't know what you don't know till you know though, do you?


Some years ago I visited a farming family in North Canterbury who have been established there since the last half of the 19th century. They are predominantly sheep farmers and always have been because pasture quality and growth height does not lend itself to cattle and nor does the topography much. Yet dairy farmers were moving into the surrounding areas. The old farmers were annoyed, very annoyed, because they knew they were pushing against nature, the land and climate was not conducive to dairying, but on top of that they were shocked by mistreatment of stock, especially bobby calves. I think they saw something like this coming.

Bit of a long bow to draw that non dairy farmers saw a biosecurity incursion coming from dairy farmers moving in to their area foxglove. When we bought our dairy farm (it was a dairy farm we didn't convert it) we were surrounded by sheep farms who weren't slow to voice their negative views about dairy farmers/farms. 20years later, there isn't a sheep farm near us as all those negative sheep farmers are now proud dairy farmers themselves. There has been a section of the non dairy farm sector in Southland quick to blame dairy farmers for all environmental issues - despite only being 30-35% of pastoral land use. Yet these same non dairy farmers are making the loudest noise about the restrictions in the new Water and Land Plan on conversions. They want the ability to sell/convert to dairy in the future due to the higher land value that creates. Wants cake and eat it to comes to mind.
If they saw mistreatment of bobby calves they had a duty to report it to either dairyNZ, the milk processor or SPCA. If they did not then they are as guilty as the dairy farmers or else hypocrites.

I hope that MPI, MSD and the other 'I'm from the Gubmint and I'm here to Help' agencies have their compensation schemes worked out, at least to a point where the left and right hands have open comms channels. The miserable performance of EQC in the aftermath of the Christchurch quakes is not a good omen here.

And that the Finance Minister's cupboard isn't bare.

Because at 130K animals, there's the thick end of $150m straight up at a value of $1-1.2K each.

And assuming 50% milkers, each one should produce perhaps 400 KgMS which at $7/kg is a lost production of 65K * 400 * 7 = $182m.

So we have $332M in year 1 for openers. That $1billion over ten years sounds wobbly already.

It will be Interesting to quiz Them Wot Know about the raw details of the economic forecasting behind all this....because it will affect everything from rural support to tax revenue.

... eradicate Michael Palmer-Bovis before or after " Gypsy Day " .... ??????

Phased that even possible.


At least not the way MPI are playing at it

Surely the way they are 'playing it' will have to change.

I believe its too late Kate. So 3000 farms that they know of have forward traced animals. Yet they have no restrictions on stock movement. And we are ALL downsizing to our winter numbers. DISPERSAL.

Agree it did/does look too late to me as well - but full marks I suppose for trying. They could hardly come out with a decision that was not supported by the big players of DairyNZ, Beef & Lamb and Fed Farmers. The criticism for going against the wishes of industry would have been a hornets nest for them to manage from a PR perspective (and they've already started paying out compensation to some).

So a bit of a rock and a hard place type of decision.

I'm imagining they'll be letting some people continue to milk "infected" herds under movement control. And as long as there's no stock movement off the farm except to slaughter and there's farm perimeter control, there's no reason not to that I can see.

Positively wall st. Calf rearing will have to change a bit. Taking milk to a high temp to kill the bug. Calf auctions need to be shut down. Dont know if they will. But rearers ought to get their calves from tested clear farms. Knowing the test is only 60%....anyway um possibly bring in a testing regime as we did for tb. So movement of stock is only possible with a clear test. Having been on movement control in the 90s its a real drag on productivity. As you never know what a test will show taking risks and pushing the envelope was not an option.
Possibly grazing blocks will climb in price. Dairy farmers wont want to send their stock to farms where they will mix with other stock. Whatever the govt decided this was happening anyway.
Each farm will look at becoming more self sufficient. Buying dairy x stock to fatten will look dicey. Straight beef cattle prices will rise.
I see ewe prices climbing. Lamb returns are great. So farming more ewes rather than trading cattle would be classed as a much better option for a year or two.
Finding good ewes wont be easy. They are worth huge money dead. Chinese love our mutton at the moment.
This is pretty big for everybody. Lots to think about. I wish I had confidence in what mpi are trying to achieve. I dont. If I did, yes I would say eradicate. But just from what I have seen I think they are pissing in the wind.

All good thinking Belle,
At least it sounds good to me....

The only way that they will achieve this is to have the army running MPI and soldiers on the ground policing it. MPI are just too totally weak and useless and Farmers are totally rebellious and a law unto themselves. This will not happen with out stomping on a few heads. Labour are too nice for that so it will all be a total waste of money like PSA, Myrtle rust, Kauai die back. Thank National for Emasculating MPI.

Farmers are not totally rebelious...or a law unto themselves. Most are very thoughtful for the future. Want this damn thing gone. And would do what it takes.

They will have the same chance of eradicating this as eliminating zero chance. It should be treated like any other animal health issue, by farmers. I believe that farmers are generally independent and freedom loving people who like to stand on their own two feet. If you choose to paint that as rebellious and a law unto themselves then I’d say that’s a compliment in today’s world of dependent no-hopers and PC busy bodies who love throwing stones out of glasshouses and telling other people how to live their lives.

You have to have regulations otherwise some farmer might bring in something like Mycoplasmabovis - oh wait.

Belle, best of luck but hope it doesn’t come down to having to rely on that alone. Don’t suppose your interrogator from Wall St is related to Queen St.

i'm not an expert but i wonder how much the old wakanui brand garbage will go up in price to fill my kettle

Decades of breeding, genetic development and bloodstock to be destroyed .

I hope this works

If it does not we are all stuffed as the economy collapses and China buys up all the farms with monopoly money .

Don't worry all that effort and research will be quickly turned into cheap beef at the supermarket.

Having been involved in IVF for many years, this has been my absolute concern. All those years of hard working dedicated farmers building up their stock through genetics from their most valuable animals will be gone. It sickens me to know that we rejected, as a country, the idea of intensive barn farming years ago - but rightly or wrongly, I see this as the outcome we feared. I didn't even know it was happening until now.

No we would have been better to have gone organic.

This is going to be catastrophic to New Zealand. The fact both political parties and major vested stakeholders sat at the press conference table, says to me this is going to be devastating to our economy. If anyone wants to know what a ‘black swan event’ is, they maybe just about to find out.

were the banks there?

Yes, hand wringing and pacing in the background,..

The banks shouldn't be that worried if the Government can handle the outbreak the same way the Christchurch rebuild was managed. Nothing to worry about at all, right?

Perhaps we should put our best and brightest onto solving the problem instead.

Oh those guys? They couldn’t afford to live here, so moved to Australia.

yikes, that was a bit too many 'home truths' injected into the discussion in short order.

I was listening to Radio NZ this morning where they had a panel of 3 farmers, getting their views on eradicate vs contain and how it will affect them. One of the farmers was a British guy in the Waikato who talked of his experiences back home. He said just how different it will be here if we can't get rid of it, ie: Closed farming system, no live animals ever coming on farm, farmers owning their own stock trucks or trailers they tow behind their tractors to take animals to the works.

Got me thinking of what a closed system farming may look, comparing production figures and profitability:

250 cows on 131ha is 1.9 milking cows/ha

Comparable dairy farm I worked on 2 seasons ago at 130ha effective was 450cows, that's a stocking rate of 3.5 cows/ha, that's good Waikato land. Young stock trucked off to the hills, bit of silage made on but most bought in.

3.5 cows/ha vs 1.9 cows/ha is a big whack to the pocket.

For my previous employer to keep everything in house that would be 450 cows to 250. 150,000kgms vs 83,000ms. Turn over $900k vs $495k ($6 payout).

Bearing in mind he'll have near the same work load and more importantly the same debt.

Wonder what's being said in the banks at present...

Yes, lots of food for thought there.

During the story on tonight's OneNews, the CEO of MPI said an interesting thing;

"As I said earlier, no cast iron guarantee with this and maybe we'll have to reassess it in the Spring".

I suspect that is what will happen. They can't go on compensating over the life of the eradication plan (which I think someone referred to it being a 10-year plan).

M bovis or no M bovis I would suggest that sort of farming would have to change anyway, unsustainable.

I would think a more prudent approach would be determining the origin and not start eradication so precipitously...the analogy is similar to killing the patient before you can assess the cause...

May well have this wrong but don’t think the origin of this disease has been identified?? That in itself is more than a worry as how then is it stopped from perpetuating from the source(s.) And then to be really glum, if the eradication is eventually successful, if how it happened is still unknown, what’s to stop it reintroducing itself.

For the origin to be identified, MPI needs to be able to prove it 100% otherwise could they not be liable for liable/defamation by the farmer involved? Given how long its been here unless someone puts their hand up it may be unlikely MPI can prove it, or if they can prove where it started that doesn't mean they can prove how it came in, if they have a recalcitrant farmer.

Mooooooed down in their prime milk producing years .. eak

The townies yet again pick up the tab..and just watch the price of milk go up.

Exactly right.
I hope those Morrinsville farmers see the irony when they go hat in hand for their compensation packages.

I was just about to post this. Totally sums it up for me.

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