The government, along with the dairy and beef industries, announced on Monday that every effort would be made to eradicate Mycoplasma bovis from New Zealand.
This is good news for the long term for farmers, New Zealand's economy, and animal welfare but short term, it will mean higher levels of uncertainty for many farming communities, including ours.
While our community seems to have been affected relatively early by this crisis, there are still only 37 infected farms and about 260 suspect farms across the country. There is also just one strain of the disease here. All of this supports the fact that now is the best time for New Zealand to try to eradicate Mycoplasma bovis.
The government, alongside the dairy and beef industries, has also analysed how the disease could affect herds in the future and the cost involved in eradication versus the otherwise ongoing disruption to our dairy and beef industries.
Although it is expected that a further 126,000 cattle will be culled, MPI are predicting that only 192 of the more than 20,000 beef and dairy farms across the country will need to be depopulated in the next ten years.
So, what does that mean for the Ashburton District? Currently there are:
- 14 properties under a Restricted Place Notice
- 16 properties are under Notice of Direction
- 70 properties are under surveillance
- 4500 animals have been culled
- A further 500 cattle are expected to be lost
All of this will be taking a toll on many of our farmers and their families, whether Mycoplasma bovis has been detected on their properties or not. The repercussions of Mycoplasma bovis also go beyond the farm gate. It is not just dairy farms, but grazing properties, transport companies and service providers, who will also be affected. We are all in this together.
I urge anyone who needs assistance in any way to reach out for support. Sara Barr from the Rural Support Trust, and her team, are well connected to MPI and others who can help you through this difficult time. Keep an eye out for your friends, neighbours and their families, and talk to them about getting support, if you are concerned. Your GP will also be a valuable point of contact.
Ashburton District Council is in frequent communication with Federated Farmers, who are strong advocates on this matter. Ashburton District Councillor Peter Reveley is the Chair of Rural Support Mid Canterbury and Councillor Selwyn Price has recently taken up the position of Secretary. All are keeping myself and Council informed of developments on this matter.
As a district, we have faced testing times before, as we are now, and we will again. Our people are strong, resilient, caring, supportive and compassionate. Let's show that compassion for our workers, neighbours, friends, family and their children, during this difficult time.