Jane Smith says she is hesitant to use the words "Foot and Mouth," but her concern over biosecurity at our borders means "it could potentially be on the cards".
The high-profile North Otago sheep and beef farmer told The Country's Jamie Mackay she is worried New Zealand runs the risk of importing Foot and Mouth disease through sheep semen.
Smith alleges that since 2016 New Zealand's importation standards for sheep semen and embryos have been relaxed to sit below international standards. Another concern is that a pelleted form of sheep semen has been approved, along with a decrease in screening.
Mackay asks whether Foot and Mouth can be brought in through sheep semen.
"My experts tell me it absolutely could," says Smith.
Farmers are aware of the situation and have been lobbying MPI, but Smith says so far they have "hit a wall."
"MPI has come back to us and said they are happy to leave the burden of proof ... at the source. So basically the country of export ... that to me is not good enough."
"This issue could make [the] M. bovis outbreak look like a dress rehearsal for the real thing".