As part of the Mycoplasma bovis (M. bovis) response, farmers will begin to receive consultation packs from Beef + Lamb New Zealand (B+LNZ) on an increase to the maximum biosecurity levy for cattle from $0.45/head to $2/head in the coming days.

"The Mycoplasma bovis response has been a difficult time for farmers whose farms are impacted by the response," says B+LNZ's chairman Andrew Morrison.

"Technical challenges with tracing and diagnosing the disease, as well as issues with the processes involved in the response, have highlighted the importance of the beef sector being part of the Government Industry Agreement (GIA) on biosecurity so that we ensure the voices of our farmers are being properly taken into account during the response."

From last Friday farmers will receive consultation packs in the mail on a plan to increase the maximum biosecurity levy for cattle from the $0.45/head originally consulted on when the industry signed up to join the GIA, to a new maximum of $2/head.

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The consultation is also considering a proposal to raise the maximum amount payable under GIA to $5 million per year, which would enable the organisation to meet the costs of the Mycoplasma bovis response as they're being incurred.

"Under the previous maximum biosecurity levy of $0.45/head for cattle, it would have taken nearly 25 years to repay the industry's share of the M. bovis response — estimated at up to $17 million over 10 years," says Andrew.

"By increasing the maximum biosecurity levy to $2/head, we will be able to repay costs associated with the response in a timely manner.

"As we are also not levying cull dairy cows as part of the M. bovis response, we also need to be able to set different levy rates for different classes of cattle."

While cull dairy cows will not be levied for Mycoplasma bovis, they could face a beef biosecurity levy in the future for other incursions.

"For example, a disease that restricted trade in beef — such as BSE — would affect dairy farmers in their capacity as beef farmers, and justify collection of a beef biosecurity levy on cull dairy cattle in the future."

Farmers have until June 7 to provide their feedback on the increase to the maximum biosecurity levy and can do so either by returning their consultation documents in the mail, or by completing the form online at www.beeflambnz.com/mbovis2019.

"I encourage farmers to participate in the consultation and share their views on the proposals and look forward to listening to what they think," says Andrew.

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