The future of a Kiwi agricultural tradition that dates back more than century is unclear as A&P associations weigh the risks of running cattle classes in the wake of the Mycoplasma bovis outbreak.
Cattle exhibitors are being urged to proceed carefully as eradication efforts continue.

Royal Agricultural Society (RAS) delegates decided at last month's conference to leave it up to individual show committees to decide whether to proceed with cattle sections, provided they could work within Ministry for Primary Industries (MPI) guidelines.

''There was some good discussion and there were a range views expressed,'' RAS chief executive Debbie Cameron said.

''Some shows are not sure they can successfully run a cattle section with the measures in place, while other shows are saying 'We can do that' and 'We will talk to exhibitors'.''


The conference received presentations from MPI officials, DairyNZ, and Beef and Lamb New Zealand representatives.

Mrs Cameron said delegates supported what MPI was trying to do, including eradication.

RAS central districts vice-chairman Philip Worthington, of Fernside near Rangiora, said a range of views have been expressed by government officials, including whether eradication was possible. The situation remained fluid, he said.

''We decided while it's still such a fluid situation, we couldn't do more than to urge shows to act with caution.''

While most of the spring shows last year opted to proceed with cattle sections, including the Canterbury A&P Show, many autumn shows cancelled them.

The Ellesmere A&P Association has decided to cancel its cattle section for its annual show at Leeston in October.

''We are the first one out of the blocks in spring, so we had to make a decision,'' president Trevor Hobson said.

Malvern A&P Association secretary Rebecca Stewart said the show committee had not had a chance to review the cattle section since its show in March.

Courtenay A&P Association secretary Sharon Kellock said her committee planned to proceed with its cattle section at this stage for its show at Kirwee, near Christchurch, in November, this year's president, Jane Jenkins, being a well-known beef cattle breeder.

''She's keen to exhibit her cattle, but she is sensible. MPI has said to take precautions so we will be keeping an eye on how things develop.''

The Courtenay association hosted a pet lamb and calf day on Sunday to give local people advice on caring for stock and preparing them for shows.

-By David Hill