Minister for Agriculture Damien O'Connor insists Federated Farmers has not been excluded from the governance group reviewing MPI's current surge in the Mycoplasma bovis eradication programme.

An independent report has been commissioned into the cause and effects of the programme and to identify additional immediate improvements.

O'Connor told The Country's Rowena Duncum the programme needed "a slightly stronger governance body and clearer accountability".

"It's been a bit too loose so we're going to appoint an independent chair, strengthen it up, bring a few more people on to that governance body so they can keep an eye on every part of the programme," said O'Connor.


Listen below:

The Country's Andy Thompson said President Katie Milne told him Federated Farmers was originally part of the group.

He asked O'Connor if the Feds would be included at a later date.

"No. The Governance Group is basically the people who are paying", said O'Connor, who explained that Beef + Lamb NZ, DairyNZ and the Government (through MPI), had contributed through levies.

Read more: Independent report to focus on Mycoplasma bovis surge

Although Federated Farmers is not a paid-up member of the governance group, O'Connor told Thompson that members still played an important role in the fight against M. bovis.

"They're very much part of the programme on the ground working with the farmers, and that's what we need".

Federated Farmers had been instrumental in pointing out "blockages" in the way MPI handled Mycoplasma bovis, and the Ministry had fixed them as a result, said O'Connor.

"I want an open flow of information and there's nothing to stop any Federated Farmer member, or the organisation providing input back in to the governance group."


"There's no blocks here."

Also in today's interview: O'Connor discusses the upcoming Zero Carbon bill report and the proposal for a legal cannabis market.