The Cabinet will decide on Monday whether to keep trying to eradicate the cattle disease M. bovis or move to containment.

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern, Agriculture Minister Damien O'Connor and Ministry for Primary Industries officials today met industry representatives including DairyNZ, Beef+Lamb NZ, Federated Farmers, Rural Women New Zealand, Dairy Companies Association of New Zealand and the Meat Industry Association.

"All the industry organisations agree that we've got to be united on the decision, whatever that is and get out there and help farmers and help people who haven't had access to all the facts that we've shared today and they'll be able to explain to them why we've got to do what we have to do," O'Connor told reporters today.

As the number of properties infected with M.bovis rises and the number of cattle that need to be culled stands at around 22,000, the current approach of putting down cattle has been questioned.


"We would like to have done it earlier, we're using the information that we have, doing this as quickly as we can to give certainty to farmers," O'Connor said.

"The industry are hanging out and waiting for a decision so they have some certainty."

He said either decision would be hard but unsurprising to farmers.

"They understand that tough calls have to be made for the greater good of the long-term industry."

Ardern said there around 40 properties with confirmed infection and potentially up to 70 more, but hundreds more were being tested so that figure would change.

DairyNZ chairman Jim van der Poel said farmers had been living with uncertainty for some time and he expected some concern would be relieved with a decision.

Beef+Lamb New Zealand chairman Andrew Morrison said farmers would be helped, no matter what the decision was.

The acceleration of the disease's spread comes as farmers prepare for Gypsy Day on June 1, when sharemilkers move their cows to new farms.


Ardern and O'Connor yesterday met farmers in Waikato, where a case of M. bovis was detected last week for the first time.

Ardern told farmers there the crisis had not yet reached the point where the Government response would change from eradication to containment.

She said the costs of the crisis were likely to easily exceed the $85 million the Government had already put aside but would not say what share of the costs would be covered by farmers.

Meanwhile, police have begun an investigation into the source of the outbreak.