Nearly 25,000 animals have now been culled as the Government tries to eradicate Mycoplasma bovis compensation.

Agriculture Minister Damien O'Connor says $7.6 million in compensation has so far been paid to farmers whose cattle have been destroyed in the fight against the disease.

O'Connor said that was out of an assessed claims value of $9.3m to date.

The Ministry for Primary Industries had received 139 claims - 49 so far had been paid in part or in full with another 12 in the final approval stage.


"Moving to phased eradication has allowed MPI to work with industry partners to bring more resource into the response to directly support farmers," he said.

"The big push has been bringing in people with practical farming experience to work with farmers under regulatory control - 25 went into the field last week and another 10 will begin shortly. In total 250 people are working on the response."

O'Connor said the decision to try to eradicate M. bovis by culling cattle carrying the bacterial organism had given certainty to farmers.

The bill for the eradication attempt has been costed by the government at nearly $900m, most of which is farmer compensation entitlement under the Biosecurity Act and which will be picked up by the taxpayer.

The painful and debilitating cattle disease, which does not affect humans or cattle by-products milk and meat, was first diagnosed last July in the South Island. It is endemic in the herds of New Zealand's trading partners so is not a trade issue. Many of the cattle killed - estimated to be 150,000-plus over the eradication attempt - have been, and will be, healthy. Whole herds have been destroyed in the MPI response. The South Island case is the only confirmed outbreak.

O'Connor said 44 farms - in both islands - had been identified since the July outbreak, with eight now cleaned and cleared of M. bovis.

Killing of 24,500 cattle on 28 of the infected farms had been completed, allowing them to go into the disinfection stage.

The number of farms under regulatory control had fallen from 300 to about 200, but this was likely to change as the tracing response continued, O'Connor said.


"Phased eradication is in its early stages and we fully expect to uncover more suspicious or infected properties over coming months. It was disappointing that we had our first confirmed detection in the Wairarapa this week."

The latest identified property is a sheep and beef farm near Masterton.

The alternative to the continued eradication drive was to manage the disease long-term.

Whatever short-term path was chosen by the government and farming leaders, confirmation the disease has arrived in New Zealand will change the way dairy and beef cattle are farmed with on-farm biosecurity and the cattle movement control system to be tightened considerably.