Mycoplasma bovis found for first time in Waikato

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Media contact: MPI media team

Telephone: 029 894 0328

Email: media@mpi.govt.nz

Biosecurity New Zealand (a unit of the Ministry for Primary Industries) today confirmed that a farm in the Cambridge area has tested positive for Mycoplasma bovis.

The Waikato region dairy farm was identified through the tracing of cattle movements from infected properties and has been put through an exhaustive testing process to achieve a reliable result. The farm is under strict controls preventing the movement of animals and other risk goods on and off the property.

Biosecurity New Zealand's response director Geoff Gwyn says it is very disappointing to find the disease in another of New Zealand's key dairying regions.

"It was, however, not a huge surprise, given the sheer number of farms we are uncovering that have received cows and calves from affected farms.

"It's a reality of New Zealand's farming system that large numbers of animals are sold and moved across big distances. This response is serving to underline just how much movement takes place and it is this, coupled with poor record keeping through NAIT that is making our job very challenging."

The new Cambridge positive takes the number of infected properties across the country to 39.

Since the beginning of the response, Biosecurity New Zealand (MPI), animal industry bodies, vets and farmers have been intent on identifying new infected farms, containing the disease, and keeping all options open to make the best possible decision on how the disease should be managed in future.

"Currently many of our people, along with our partners in industry, are putting in big hours to gather the information needed to make such a significant decision – do we attempt to eradicate the disease or move to some form of management over the long term?

"It is not an easy decision to make. All options remain on the table, but we are now looking harder at the possibility of having to manage it over the long term.

"A decision is expected by the end of this month. It's taking time because we want to get it right and we are working hard with industry representatives to get us in the best place to make the best decision," Mr Gwyn says.

"DairyNZ and Beef+Lamb New Zealand have been a vital part of the disease and cost modelling work that is needed to develop our future options and they continue to work as part of our planning team for those options.

"DairyNZ is also providing support directly to farmers to help them make compensation claims. This is vital, as the quality of the information we receive when a claim is made has a direct bearing on how fast we can turn them around," Mr Gwyn says.

"Along with DairyNZ and Beef+Lamb New Zealand, the Dairy Companies Association of New Zealand, Federated Farmers, and the Meat Industry Association have all had intimate involvement in the governance of this response and they continue to make important contributions to it operationally.  This is important, as whatever decisions are made later this month around eradication or long-term management, a joined-up approach between government and industry organisations will be critical to supporting farmers through it."

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