The Ministry for Primary Industries will start telling farmers directly if neighbouring properties are infected with M. bovis cattle disease or are at high risk.

"Some farmers have expressed frustration at not being formally told when a neighbour's farm is identified as an infected property," Biosecurity Minister Damien O'Connor said.

"MPI [Ministry of Primary Industries] will start directly informing neighbouring farms of infected properties or high-risk properties. This will mean farmers can take appropriate steps to improve their on-farm biosecurity and reduce the risk to their own stock.

"This is a measured step that balances the privacy concerns of individuals with the need for farmers to protect their own farms," O'Connor said in a statement.


MPI would also publish a list on its website of the National Animal Identification and Tracing (Nait) numbers of all affected animals, including all those associated with or traced from an infected property.

"MPI would also beef up enforcement of the Animal Status Declaration (ASD) form that accompanies a consignment of cattle when they're sold, a legal requirement.

"Farmers need to disclose the health history of their stock in the form and declare whether their farm is under any movement controls. They need to ensure they are completing the ASD form correctly and, along with greater compliance with Nait, this will support our efforts to eradicate Mycoplasma bovis," O'Connor said.

Regulation and legislation changes were also being considered, including:

• Amending the Animal Products Act to add a new infringement offence for failing to use the ASD form correctly

• Amending the Nait Act to bring its search powers in line with the Search and Surveillance Act

• New regulation to control the use of discarded milk

"Farmers have been attending the Mycoplasma bovis roadshow meetings in big numbers and are naturally interested in the response and changes that could be made to help them manage their biosecurity," O'Connor said.