The Rural Support Trust (RST) Mid Canterbury welfare co-ordinator for Mycoplasma bovis response has resigned.

Angela Cushnie, in the role for just short of three months, tendered her resignation last month, citing a decision made at the Ministry for Primary Industries (MPI) national office that was likely to have a ''significant welfare impact'' on farming families, with flow-on effects.

It was unclear what the decision was or the effects it could have on Mid Canterbury's farming community, already caught up in the M. bovis phased eradication, but it was enough to cause the recently appointed Cushnie to resign.

''I resigned from my RSTMC M. bovis welfare role in protest to a decision made by MPI national office.


''On behalf of the Rural Support Trust Mid Canterbury M. bovis welfare team, I anticipate that if MPI proceed on their current course, there will be a significant welfare impact on the farming families directly involved, neighbours and the wider community (particularly those already impacted by the Biosecurity Act 1993).

''I believe the social and personal toll this will have is beyond my capability, and beyond my brief as co-ordinator,'' Cushnie said in a statement.

A spokesman for MPI said: ''We do not comment on the arrangements we have with contractors.

''Affected farmers in Mid Canterbury continue to be well supported by the Mid Canterbury Rural Support Trust. This includes visits, care packages and liaison for farmers and families who are stressed or under pressure.''

Cushnie spoke to Agriculture Minister Damien O'Connor while he was at the Ashburton A&P show last month.

O'Connor did not respond to media requests about what was discussed, or Cushnie's concerns, although a spokesman from his office said ''... it was an operational issue for MPI''.

''The minister would echo MPI's sentiments about not commenting on contractual arrangements and that the Rural Support Trusts do an excellent job around the country of supporting our farming families.''

Mid Canterbury Federated Farmers president Michael Salvesen said his organisation had worked closely with RST and farming families since the start of the response to M. bovis.


''We attended the RST workshop last month and have been having regular meetings and contact with Damien O'Connor and the M. bovis response team.

''MPI have been very slow to realise that this whole response is about people, not process, and have, in many ways, lost sight of the effect that the process is having upon farmers and their families.

''We will continue to work with farmers and RST to try to get the best outcomes possible in the circumstances.''

Cushnie said in the days following her resignation there had been positive progress after MPI had reversed its initial decision, ''which was very encouraging for me that [the welfare team's] being heard''.

However, she had not rescinded her resignation and, as of last week, a ''suitable replacement had been found'' and Cushnie was working through the final update with RST trustees.

She was full of praise for the regional team she worked alongside, especially MPI staff members Al Lawn and Loretta Dobbs.

''My hope is that a satisfactory compromise can be made but I have exhausted every avenue available to me to try and make this happen.

''I cannot stand by and support this decision,'' she said at the time of her resignation.

The farming families she was working with had been kept informed of her resignation.

- Central Rural Life