While the cattle disease Mycoplasma bovis has had a greater impact on the dairy and beef industries than on the deer industry, it has meant a delay for Deer Industry New Zealand signing the Government Industry Agreement (GIA), chief executive Dan Coup says.

Consultation with the sector group began in October last year, and if it was supported, its application to be a signatory was to be made to the Ministry of Primary Industries (MPI) in December.

The industry's inclusion in the partnership agreement meant it would be involved in funding and decision-making about any future biosecurity incursions, but for now the process was on hold, as many MPI staff were focused on dealing with the disease.

''We haven't signed up yet,'' Mr Coup said.


''If there is a silver lining with M. bovis, in general, farmers have a greater understanding of the value of Nait (National Animal Identification and Traceability) for animal traceability, and it's not just a 'pain in the butt'.''

Mr Coup said the deer industry had its own plan to deal with any biosecurity incursion, which they were planning to review and refresh.

''However, when there is an incursion, people discover all the things they didn't know and what they should have done.''

He said since M. Bovis was discovered, deer farmers were more aware of the need to be accurate with their record-keeping.

He said there were many pests and diseases outside New Zealand's borders, but foot and mouth disease, and chronic wasting disease (CWD) were the two ''high level nasties'', the industry would especially not wish to see here.

Deer Industry New Zealand producer manager Tony Pearce said other diseases which posed a threat to the industry included anthrax and blue tongue.

He said CWD had been found in Canada several years ago, but any animals imported into New Zealand from there had long since died and were subsequently found to be disease-free.

''However, we have no more imports of live animals, and most people are now bringing in gametes.''


Mr Pearce said the industry's experience with Johne's disease and tuberculosis meant deer farmers were pretty good at identifying and understanding biosecurity risks.

Mr Coup said they extended their sympathies to the people struggling with the disease.

''They are at the pointy end, the front line, and there is a lot of pressure on them.''

Mr Pearce said one of the challenges with biosecurity incursions was stigmatisation, which often prevented people from reaching out for support.

''That is not helpful to them or the biosecurity responses.

''People need to feel they are able to seek help,'' he said.