A report from the independent advisory group overseeing the Government's response to the outbreak of Mycoplasma bovis said it was confident New Zealand could eradicate the cattle disease.

The decision to try eradication was made in May 2018 by the Cabinet and industry bodies DairyNZ and Beef and Lamb New Zealand, with support from Federated Farmers and Fonterra.

Four per cent of New Zealand's 24,000 farms have been under restrictions and required testing due to possible exposure to M.bovis.

To date there have been 201 farms found to be infected, with 185 of those "depopulated", cleaned and disinfected, and being supported back to farming free from the disease.


The Programme has paid out over $100 million in compensation to affected farmers.

A report from the Technical Advisory Group said achieving eradication was feasible.

It said there had also been signs of "improved operational performance" over the past six months, including a downward trend in the number of farms testing positive for the disease.

"Given currently available data, the TAG concludes that achieving biological freedom from M. bovis is feasible, provided that the number of undetected infected herds is not large, infection has not established and spread within the non-dairy sector, and that the rate of transmission to new herds is reduced," the report said.

The group said it would support the development of a herd accreditation programme that would allow farmers to purchase cattle from farms that are unlikely to be infected.

Sam McIvor, chief executive of Beef and Lamb NZ, said the report was "reassuring".

"We are seeing momentum in the right direction," he told The Country radio show.

"It's been frustrating for everyone involved, including the farmers, because in the initial stages we felt like we were chasing our tails," McIvor said.


The arrival of M.bovis has been one of the greatest biosecurity challenges faced by the ministry.

M.bovis first arrived in New Zealand in late 2015 or early 2016.