Mycoplasma bovis has now been confirmed on at least 38 properties with more expected to follow, as the Ministry for Primary Industries tries to stop the spread of the cattle disease.

Today on The Country, Jamie Mackay asked Minister for Agriculture and Biosecurity Damien O'Connor if he thinks the "horse has bolted," and whether the focus should now be on containing, rather than eradicating Mycoplasma bovis.

"We have to contain and hopefully we can eradicate...we may end up with a long term eradication programme. I hope it is still possible," says O'Connor who admits the situation has changed.

"Clearly the goalposts have shifted."


Mackay questions whether the cull should end at 22,000 cows if the disease is going to spread, as "you can't cull 100,000 dairy cows surely."

Read more: Mycoplasma bovis cull emotional for farmer

O'Connor says the cull will have to be looked into by industry as well as Government and that he is getting the "best international information that we the end we do have to make a call."

Gypsy Day is coming up where stock is moved from one location to the next.

"We're very conscious of that date," says O'Connor who confirms no cattle will be moved from properties that are infected or under suspicion of infection and that tracing has made the process difficult.

"The absence of a robust NAIT system has made this a bit of a nightmare."

O'Connor says the spread of Mycoplasma bovis is a "wake up call for all of us," and that people may have been taking the threat of the cattle disease "a bit casually."

Also in today's interview: Damien O'Connor addresses speculation that Mycoplasma bovis has been in New Zealand since 2014 and confirms he will go after those who brought it into the country.


Listen below: