Cattle competitions and exhibitions will go ahead at the Royal New Zealand Show in Hastings in October despite the Mycoplasma bovis scare which has seen hundreds of cattle killed over the last year to avoid risks of spreading the disease.
The decision was confirmed yesterday, with the Ministry of Primary Industries satisfied that if special requirements are met, including traceability and separation of animals then the staging of the cattle section won't increase the risk of spreading M. bovis.
A reprieve, after show organisers having to scrap the anchor stock classes because of the crisis comes after weeks of negotiations involving show hosts the Hawke's Bay A and P Society, the Ministry of Primary Industries, and the Canterbury A and P Society, which will also go ahead with the cattle section at its New Zealand Agricultural Show, otherwise known as the Canterbury Show.
Both societies had feared they may have to cancel the anchor farm stock category because of the crisis which developed after the detection of infected cattle in the South Island in July 2017. The disease was also discovered in a herd shipped to a property in Hawke's Bay later in the year.
The Government in May announced an eradication project aimed at the phased culling of 150,000 cattle at a cost of more than $880 million, which includes re-establishment of herds which have to be destroyed.
The number of farms currently infected or under watch was this week put at 35, while 28 have been depopulated and cleaned, enabling farmers to start rebuilding.
Special protocols have been established for the major shows, enabling the cattle to be included at the Royal NZ Show at Hawke's Bay Showgrounds Tomoana in Hastings on October 17-19 and the Canterbury Show in Christchurch four weeks later.
Hawke's Bay cattle section committee member Max Tweedie said comprehensive research revealed genuine risk of disease transmission would be minimal.
"Although the risk is low, all possible measures will be taken to reduce the risk of disease transmission during the event," he said. "The Hawke's Bay A and P Society is extremely motivated to do all it can to protect all exhibitors and their stock."
Canterbury event director Geoff Bone, whose society spearheaded the show's collaboration with the MPI, said updated processes would allow an "added layer" of security without impacting unduly on the experience and workload of exhibitors.
Continual contact with MPI will enable adjustments to be made if necessary, and his show will work closely with Hawke's Bay to learn from the experiences with the show in Hastings.
Hawke's Bay society general manager Sally Jackson said breeders and industry experts had been consulted over the last six weeks and there was unanimous agreement, indicating breeders were still prepared to have stock at the show. This will then keep alive competition for the centrepiece silverware, the Meat and Wool Cup.
"Events this year have highlighted the need for shows to be highly proactive in protecting their livestock exhibitors from infectious disease threats," she said.
Last year, the show in Hastings attracted 305 entries across more than 20 cattle classes.