Farmers facing the "heart-breaking" experience of culling their cattle in attempt to eradicate the disease Mycoplasma bovis are being urged to seek any support on offer.

Dairy NZ's Andrew Reid said the farming community was "very tight in terms of how they look out for one another but we're talking about livelihoods and businesses here as well as the emotional attachment that farmers have for their animals".

"[It is] a pretty heart-breaking experience to see your life's work going off on a truck, not to come back again."

The Government on Monday said it had reached an agreement with farming sector leaders to attempt to eradicate the disease, which is not harmful to humans.


The cull of about 126,000 animals in addition to the 26,000 already underway would take place over one to two years and cost $886 million over 10 years, the Government said.

Reid said Monday's announcement had brought certainty about what the future could look like.

"A lot of that stress has been brought on over the past 10 to 11 months because it's the unknown about, 'What does this mean for me on my farm?'"

For those who had been issued with an infected property status there were some dark days to come as they got stock ready for slaughter.

Federated Farmers Dairy chairman Chris Lewis said the announcement would "bring a lot of tears to farmers eyes who are affected by it" but also relief to others who now knew the full facts, understood where things were heading and were better placed to support their neighbours and fellow farmers.

There was support from bodies including Federated Farmers, the Rural Support Trust, DairyNZ, Beef and Lamb NZ, and the Ministry for Primary Industries (MPI).

"All this sounds wonderful ... but sometimes you still feel you can be isolated and on your own because less than 1 per cent of farmers do actually have it."

Lewis encouraged people to make contact with farmers and family members.


Farmers should contact support "whatever [organisation] you feel that you want to talk to first, just pick up the phone and say, 'Hey I am an M. Bovis farm how can I get help?', or send an email if you don't want the personal contact to start with, just drop a line any way that you prefer".

Federated Farmers would monitor the process and be a "supportive watchdog".

"Hopefully in a couple of years time normality will come back."

A spokesman for MPI said it was undoubtedly a difficult time for some people.

"We're calling on rural communities to support affected farmers and those who appear to be finding things hard. If you have any concerns about someone you know, please contact a GP or other community support services."

MPI was supporting affected farmers through assigned case managers, the Rural Support Trust and where appropriate, acute recovery managers.

"Affected farmers should talk to their industry group representatives, their individual response case manager, or Rural Support Trust (0800 787 254).

"Anyone who wants information from MPI can call the Ministry directly on 0800 00 83 33 – there is a team of people on board to answer Mycoplasma bovis questions."

Agriculture and Biosecurity Minister Damien O'Connor said as a former sharemilker and farmer he could relate to the "terrible situation facing anyone who has to cull their herd".

"It's really tough on the families ... It's up to us to work together and support them."

Rural Women New Zealand president Fiona Gower said her organisation was ready to support those affected, especially women and children.

"We are committed to ensuring [there is] wrap-around welfare support for those affected because we understand that without this, high levels of stress in times of any crisis and in the aftermath can lead to a breakdown in our rural social fabric," Gower said.

"The last thing we need is the bullying of our children, an increase in family violence or even suicide."


If you are worried about your or someone else's mental health, the best place to get help is your GP or local mental health provider. However, if you or someone else is in danger or endangering others, call police immediately on 111.


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