The Government is confident that the cattle disease M. bovis can be eradicated in New Zealand.

It would be a world first if successful.

"Based on all the evidence presented to us, we are confident that eradication is possible and that we are on track in what's a world first but necessary action to preserve the value of our national herd and economic base, Biosecurity Minister Damien O'Connor said today.

O'Connor was speaking alongside Jacinda Ardern at the Prime Minister's post-Cabinet press conference.


The Government announced a massive response in May after the disease was detected on cattle and dairy farms.

"We have received feedback from the Technical Advisory Group (TAG) that shows the eradication response is making substantial progress," Ardern said.

"The TAG is more optimistic than six months ago, having confirmed that evidence shows we are currently dealing with a single and relatively recent incursion from late 2015-early 2016.

"The response started nearly 18 months ago and as the Coalition Government and the farming industry learns more about the disease, processes may change, but at this stage I have confidence the approach we are taking to eradicate is the right one and we remain committed to this," she said.

Two testing programmes to work out the spread of M. bovis in New Zealand have returned no undetected clusters of disease.

The Spring bulk milk testing programme on all 11,300 dairy farms has identified only three infected properties that were already part of the tracing programme and to date there have been no positive test results in the beef calf-rearing survey.

Currently there are 32 active infected properties and 51 have been cleared of the disease.

O'Connor said everyone was stepping up in all aspects of biosecurity.

"There has been a 20 per cent increase in use of the national animal tracing system (Nait) over the past year and 27 new Nait compliance officers are out in the field working with farmers," he said.

"Last week the Government took action to crack down on livestock rustling by proposing two new offences to the Crimes Act because we recognise the multiple risks this presents to the rural sector.

So far around 180 farmers have received almost $37 million in compensation.

"It is in everyone's interests to work through the more complex situations promptly, particularly during the next two years where we do the heavy lifting, followed by several years of surveillance," O'Connor said.

M. bovis, which is not harmful to humans, can cause lameness, mastitis and abortions in cattle.

Cabinet has approved $444m for 18/19 and 19/20 years for work to eliminate M. bovis.