Mycoplasma bovis are two words that most of us had probably never heard of a few months back. They're certainly two words that the Beehive wished they'd never heard of but they're two words that most dairy farmers would have heard of and would have lived in dread of.

In recent decades this country has become the land of milk and money with dairy exports at $14 billion a year far outstripping any other export sector.

So the dairy herd, despite all the the environmental critics, is vital to this country.

Today the Prime Minister will hold something of a themed post-Cabinet news conference, down at Federated Farmers rather than in the Beehive. It's to show they're working closely and in collaboration with those most closely associated with this dreadful disease, the dairy farmers.


For them this has become an emotional roller coaster with cow cockies being closer to their animals than any other considering they generally engage with each of them twice a day as they hook up the milking machines.

For the rest of us the disease probably means very little, the milk will still be on the supermarket shelves, untainted by what's going on with the herd down on the farm, such is the insidious nature of it.

The disease doesn't transfer into the food chain which is why every country in the world, with the exception of Norway which isn't infected, manage it but live with it.

Tackling Mycoplasma bovis with the intention of eradicating it is no easy task which we will be told today.

Infected cows don't always present symptoms. If one does, then chances are the herd it belongs to will be slaughtered. So far around 14,000 have been killed and the slaughter's not likely to stop.

The most likely option the Government will take is to contain the disease, identify the spread of it with a view of eradicating it altogether which is expected to take several years.

This coming Friday will be a trying time for the farmers, it's what they call gypsy day, where herds are moved from one property to another which sounds irresponsible, considering M. bovis is spread by direct contact.

But if they weren't moved they'd starve, they have to be moved to where the root crops are for winter.

In the meantime, over the weekend more herds were culled, despite the fact that there was an amnesty until today's decision, which just goes to show how determined farmers are to eradicate this disease.

And a ghastly indication of how this is affecting the normally closely knit farming community came with a plea from a farmer to show respect on social media, to stop treating affected farmers as outcasts.