I'll give the Government credit for a ballsy call. They're trying to do something that hasn't been done before. That tends to be either courageous or stupid.

And there are good queues of people in both camps over Mycoplasma bovis and the nearly one billion dollars it'll cost to try and eradicate it.

The plus side is we got to it early, thus we have a better chance. The other side is no one has done it, so what makes us think we will?

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And the people in charge of this are the same people, the Ministry for Primary Industries, who yesterday apologised over their handling of matters thus far. So not the sort of people you might want to trust going forward.


It might work out well, they were morose over the bacterial disease PSA - stories of a kiwifruit industry in tatters, billions lost, people forced off the land. And a handful of short years later, it's booming and records are falling annually.

M. bovis isn't the same of course, but the lesson is not to be sunk on day one and raise the white flag.

The bill, at close to a billion is over 10 years, a lot of it in the next couple. But think of it this way, dairy is worth $16 billion, beef is over three, sheep is over two, in other words one billion out of a pot that size isn't actually the end of the world, especially if it works.

And that's the thing about taking a punt: as long as you go in with reasonable expectations and solid advice and at least a fighting chance, they are often worth taking.

Imagine if it worked, imagine if we were the first, imagine if the call proves to be right.
Success then will have many fathers, but it's on the days like this, when it's all uncertain and the bill is big and the doubt is high - those are the tough days, those are the days that require the gonads.

Of course if it does prove to be successful we really do need to get our act together on border security and things like stock movement. Yes, as an island nation our borders are porous, but that's also our great advantage - stance and isolation serve us well.

But only if we are vigilant. Nowadays there's no shortage of examples from PSA to M. bovis, where serious question marks have been raised about just how good we are on the security front.

And so maybe this call is the call that sees our entire approach sorted once and for all.

Maybe this call, with all its risk and cost, is the thing we needed to finally tidy up the system of border protection. The cold hard realisation that you can't be as reliant as we are on growing stuff for the world, if you don't actually take it seriously at all stages of production.

The Government deserve credit on the call. Farmers have quite rightly felt until now this government has given them a rough ride. From irrigation, to taxes, to stock numbers, they have, perceptually anyway, been seen to be trouble.


But when an option was to take the easy road, the road the rest of the world took, and you could have been forgiven for doing so, the Government has bit the bullet, and put a shed load of dough behind it.

And it's backed the people of the land and that is to be admired.