A decision will be made next week between phased eradication or long-term management of Mycoplasma bovis.

Farming leaders and the Government met again yesterday to discuss ways to combat the bacterial cattle disease and had committed to making a decision about the next steps in the biosecurity response next week, Agriculture and Biosecurity Minister Damien O'Connor said.

The decision would be jointly taken by the Government and farming industry representatives, and farmer, rural community and animal welfare was at the heart of the ''difficult'' decision, Mr O'Connor said in a statement.

He described yesterday's meeting as constructive, with all participants, including Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern, updated on the known extent of the disease, its effects and the social and economic costs of dealing with it.


DairyNZ chairman Jim van der Poel said thelast 10 months had been challenging for farmers living with a great deal of uncertainty.

''We expect to be able to relieve some of that concern once this difficult decision has been made,'' he said.

Federated Farmers national president Katie Milne said the disease was challenging for all involved ''but if there is one positive it is how farmers, farmer representatives and Government are working together. Whatever option is taken, we need to keep doing that.''

Organisations represented at the meeting were DairyNZ, Beef + Lamb New Zealand, Federated Farmers, Rural Women New Zealand, Dairy Companies Association of New Zealand and the Meat Industry Association.

Mr O'Connor said he and Ms Ardern had very informative meetings with farmers in the Waikato and Ashburton on Monday and they could see how much farmers were hurting in the midst of an ''unprecedented'' biosecurity event.

Meanwhile, Gypsy Day - the annual transfer of cows between farms for winter grazing by sharemilkers, traditionally on June 1 - was fast approaching. The Ministry for Primary Industries had no plans for extra cattle movement restrictions but was urging farmers to take special precautions to reduce the risk of spreading Mycoplasma bovis.

Crowe Horwath agribusiness specialist Michael Lee said MPI had published information about the risk and was being transparent in its attempts to stop the spread of the disease.

However, the industry was still struggling because clear guidelines were yet to be circulated to people such as trucking companies, who would be a key component with stock moving for winter grazing and Gypsy Day in the next month.


''Policies need to be in place prior to stock leaving farms, and there needs to be clear communication of these to trucking companies, and all employees and contractors on the farm,'' he said.

Last week, Mr O'Connor announced work would start immediately to improve the national animal identification and tracing (Nait) programme.

In his report to Otago Federated Farmers' recent annual meeting, meat and wool chairman Simon McAtamney said much had been said about Nait's inadequacies in tracking infected cattle, but fault also lay with farmer non-compliance.

While Nait needed to work well first, Mr McAtamney was bothered by how sheep movements might be tracked in a major disease outbreak. Perhaps a sheep flock ID was needed and, as electronic Animal Status Declarations started to move beyond farm to processor level, all movement of sheep between farms could be recorded at a mob level in the Nait database, he said.