You may be aware the M. bovis Programme is increasing activity in the lead-up to moving day and winter grazing to limit the risk of disease spread, and to give farmers as much certainty as possible heading into this busy period.
This means the programme will have a surge in the number of properties contacted about the movement of risk animals, and a higher number of properties than usual will be placed under movement restrictions.
The Ministry for Primary Industries (MPI) will be contacting about 300 farmers as a priority over the next few weeks who have had high risk animals move onto their property. The programme would expect 250 of those to have Notice of Direction movement controls placed on them immediately and, following testing, that 10-12 per cent may become Confirmed Properties.
Around two thirds of the properties are beef farms, and the remainder dairy.
Around 800 other properties will also be contacted about very low-risk animal movements, as the programme continues to work to ring fence the spread of M. bovis.
This is a very different category of farm.
These properties have had low risk events, like being one of many farms to have sent an animal to a property that has become infected, but the programme does need to check. It is expected less than 0.4 per cent of these properties will become Confirmed Properties.
MPI has stated that the surge does not represent increased spread of the disease, and does not change their confidence that we will achieve eradication.
As you know, there is a greater risk of the disease spreading as a result of increased animal movements over the coming weeks.
This is a time of the year when graziers take on stock, both dairy cows and young stock from dairy farmers. It's also a time when beef farmers are in the market for replacement cattle for their finishing operations.
Therefore, the aim is to get through the inspection and testing process for as many farms as possible so that farmers can have certainty about their farming options.
Beef + Lamb New Zealand is assisting MPI and DairyNZ to increase the staff and resources available to the M. bovis Programme in an effort to minimise disease spread at this time.
We know this surge will be disruptive for farmers caught up in the response and frustrating for those seeking to make timely stock decisions. B+LNZ will be working with our response partners to give farmers the most up-to-date and practical information to help them manage their risks but at the same time run a business.
For those farmers with restrictions, we'll be working hard to support them.
We are also reminding all farmers of the importance of maintaining complete and accurate records in NAIT, as this is an essential tool for the speedy tracing of animals and ultimately for protecting everybody's farms and the wider industry.