The Southland farming community has reached a landmark zero cases of the cattle disease Mycoplasma bovis.
Today Biosecurity and Agriculture Minister Damien O'Connor extended his thanks and congratulations.
"Southland farmers were really hard hit by this disease and they've done the hard yards to get to this point. Full credit to them for the sacrifices they have made for the national good."
M.bovis was first detected in New Zealand on 22 July 2017, after a large number of cattle in a South Canterbury dairy herd began displaying symptoms of a novel disease.
It was estimated that allowing M.bovis to spread could cause $1.3 billion in economic losses in the first ten years, along with substantial animal welfare issues, and serious ongoing challenges for farmers having to manage the disease within their herds.
In May 2018 Government, along with DairyNZ and Beef + Lamb NZ (with support from Fonterra, Federated Farmers, the Dairy Companies Association of New Zealand, Meat Industry Association and the New Zealand Veterinary Association) made the decision to attempt a world-first eradication of M.bovis.
A Government Industry Agreement (GIA) Programme was established, jointly funded, governed and delivered by the Ministry for Primary Industries (MPI), DairyNZ, and Beef + Lamb NZ. The estimated budget for the 10 year Programme is $870 million, with 68 per cent provided by government, and 32 per cent provided by farmer levies.
At the height of the response there were 27 active properties in Southland, and now there were none. O'Connor said.
"That's a remarkable achievement and a testament to the cooperation shown between farmers, government and industry groups."
"This is a 10-year programme so we need to expect that new cases will pop up from time to time, but I think it's important to acknowledge and celebrate success along the way."
While this was good news, when it came to M.bovis, O'Connor warned "we can't afford to take our foot off the pedal," and urged farmers to continue making sure their animals were tagged and recorded in the National Animal Identification and Tracing (NAIT) system.
"There's no excuse now for farmers not knowing what they need to do to be compliant and I was very pleased to see last week a successful prosecution of a Waikato farmer for not registering 152 of his cattle. Behaviour like this makes a mockery of the heartbreak affected farmers and their families have gone through."
"If we're going to be the first country in the world to beat this disease, every cattle farmer in the country has to play their part."
To find out the most recent M. bovis facts and figures visit mbovis.govt.nz