The three partners working to eradicate Mycoplasma bovis (M. bovis) have reaffirmed their commitment to achieving eradication and supporting farmers through the eradication process.

The Ministry for Primary Industries (MPI), DairyNZ and Beef + Lamb New Zealand released the 2019 M. bovis National Plan at a meeting with farmers in Hamilton today.

The plan sets out 3 clear goals:

• To eradicate M. bovis from New Zealand.
• To reduce the impact of the disease and the eradication programme for everyone affected.
• To leave New Zealand's biosecurity system stronger.

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As part of the programme's commitment to continual improvement, it is updating how it reports the number of affected properties.

From today, MPI said it will report the total number of Confirmed Properties, Active Properties, and Cleared Properties, as it believes this is the most accurate and transparent way to report on the scale of the programme, and progress towards eradication.

MPI's new look report for Mycoplasma bovis. Photo / Supplied
MPI's new look report for Mycoplasma bovis. Photo / Supplied

M. bovis programme director Geoff Gwyn said the national plan was an important step in making sure that eradication is successful, and that farmers are properly supported the whole way.

"The eradication effort is on track, but there is still a lot of hard work to get done. There will be more farms put under movement restriction, and more farms that need to be depopulated," said Gwyn.

"Finding out that your farm might be, or is, affected must be incredibly hard news to receive, and we know that the process to get clear of M. bovis causes hardship for farmers and their families, and interruption to their business.

MPI M. bovis programme director Geoff Gwyn. Photo / Supplied
MPI M. bovis programme director Geoff Gwyn. Photo / Supplied

"We want to provide as much support and assistance as we can, as well as working to continually improve the processes that farmers have to get through to get clear of M. bovis.

"No country has attempted to eradicate M. bovis before, so there is a lot we are learning and developing as we go. The farmer and public meetings we're holding over the next month are an important way for us to hear from farmers about what is working and areas that can be improved."

DairyNZ's chief executive Dr Tim Mackle said M. bovis had created challenges for many farmers, both dairy and beef – not only those affected by the disease, but for all farmers that have increased their biosecurity measures on farm.

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"The alternative – to let this disease spread throughout the dairy and beef stock – would have been a serious challenge to the way we farm, and the ongoing costs would have been significantly higher" said Mackle.

DairyNZ chief executive Dr Tim Mackle. Photo / Supplied
DairyNZ chief executive Dr Tim Mackle. Photo / Supplied

"We believe maintaining a collaborative approach to eradication is the best option for all farmers. By sitting at the table, we can ensure that dairy farmers are getting value for money from the eradication programme, costs are scrutinised, performance is monitored, and that dairy farmer's views are represented to government."

Beef + Lamb New Zealand chief executive Sam McIvor, said: "Although we are fortunate that M. bovis has had a less direct impact on beef farmers, the risks to our friends and neighbours with dairy farms means M. bovis is a challenge that we can't ignore.

Beef + Lamb New Zealand chief executive Sam McIvor. Photo / Supplied
Beef + Lamb New Zealand chief executive Sam McIvor. Photo / Supplied

"We will continue to sit at the table with government and DairyNZ to ensure this eradication programme has the greatest chance of success, and that farmers are represented every step of the way."

Read the Mycoplasma bovis 2019 National Plan Summary below: