The Government has announced it will attempt to eradicate the cattle disease Mycoplasma bovis, at a cost of $886 million.
If it succeeds, New Zealand will be the first country to quash the disease.
The 10-year plan will see an extra 126,000 livestock culled, on top of the 26,000 already earmarked for slaughter.
Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern made the announcement on Monday afternoon, flanked by Federated Farmers President Katie Milne and Agriculture and Biosecurity Minister Damien O’Connor.
Ardern said it was a difficult decision, Newshub reported.
“This is a tough call. No one ever wants to see mass culls, but the alternative is to risk the spread of the disease to the national herd.”
Of the projected $886m cost, $870m is the cost of the response, including compensation to farmers. The remaining $16m is the loss of productivity – a cost which will be borne by farmers. Government will meet 68 per cent of this cost and DairyNZ and Beef+Lamb New Zealand will meet 32 per cent.
RNZ reported farmers will receive a substantial amount of compensation within 10 days of their claim, Damien O’Connor said.
Long-term management of the disease was projected at $1.2 billion – including $698m in productivity losses for farmers. Milne said getting rid of the disease is preferable to living with it for years on end, Stuff reported.
“Now we have to crack on and give it our best shot to recover from this threat.”
MPI is still trying to determine how M. bovis arrived in New Zealand, and said a further review into it’s response will also be carried out.
The decision and reaction was covered extensively by media around the country, including:
NZ Herald: Farmer groups back Govt move to eradicate cattle disease
RNZ: RECAP: Govt decision on M. bovis cattle disease
Newshub: Government unveils $886m plan to eradicate Mycoplasma bovis
Stuff: Cull of 126,000 livestock as Cabinet moves ahead with plans to eradicate M bovis
RadioLive: Dairy farmer explains how a gifted calf with M bovis led to mass cull
Newshub: Dairy experts sceptical over Mycoplasma bovis eradication
Te Karere: Government set to eradicate mycoplasma bovis
Newstalk ZB: ‘I wish we were more serious about M. bovis earlier on’: Mitch Harris
Stuff: Live: Government reveals its plan to cull thousands of cattle in a bid to eradicate Mycoplasma bovis