[17 December/The Country]

The Government remains confident that the cattle disease, Mycoplasma bovis can be eradicated in New Zealand, which would be a world first if successful. Biosecurity Minister, Damien O’Connor, spoke alongside Jacinda Ardern at the Prime Minister’s post-Cabinet press conference. The Government announced a massive response in May after the disease was detected on cattle and dairy farms.  The Prime Minister noted that the Coalition Government has received feedback from the Technical Advisory Group (TAG) that shows the eradication response is making substantial progress. Two testing programmes have indicated that there are no undetected clusters of disease. The Spring bulk milk testing programme on all 11,300 dairy farms has identified only three infected properties that were already part of the tracing programme and to date there have been no positive test results in the beef calf-rearing survey. Minister O’Connor said there had been a 20 per cent increase in use of the national animal tracing system (NAIT) over the past year and 27 new compliance officers are out in the field working with farmers. So far around 180 farmers have received almost $37 million in compensation. Cabinet has approved $444 million for 2018/19 and 2019/20 years for work to eliminate the disease.