New Zealand to cull 126,000 cows to eradicate disease

Agriculture and Biosecurity Minister Damien O'Connor speaks with Southland Rural Support Trust chairman John Kennedy

New Zealand to cull more than 100,000 cows to eradicate Mycoplasma disease

In an attempt to eradicate a disease-causing bacteria from cows, politicians and industry heads in New Zealand agreed on Monday to kill some 150,000 of the creatures.

Though the bacteria poses no threats to food safety, it does cause production losses, as infected cows tend to develop mastitis, severe pneumonia, arthritis and respiratory issues.

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern have made it clear the aim of the slaughter is to protect New Zealand's economy, which reportedly relies heavily on the animals' deaths and exploitation.

"Standing back and allowing the disease to spread would simply create more anxiety for all farmers", she said.

New Zealand authorities are investigating how the bacteria entered the country, where it was detected for the first time in the New Zealand's history in July 2017.

Home to some 6.6 million cows, New Zealand is one of the world's largest exporters of dairy products. They say numerous cows will be slaughtered at processing plants and used for beef, but some cows will have to be killed and buried on the farms or dumped in approved landfills.

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"This is a tough time, and the pain and anguish [affected farmers] are going to go through is really ugly", she said.

1 NEWS visited a Canterbury farmer hugely affected by the cattle cull, announced by the government yesterday.

"Newly appointed science adviser Dr John Roche has been tasked with researching new tools for the fight against Mycoplasma bovis". "And we have to support them as neighbors, community members, farmers, friends". The cost of killing the cows is estimated at 886 million New Zealand dollars. It has been found on about 40 farms so far, but 192 farms are likely to be involved in the culling. About two-thirds are dairy cows and the rest beef cattle.

The fight against Mycoplasma bovis is escalating with 50 more staff, a new field headquarters and the appointment of a science adviser, says Agriculture Minister Damien O'Connor.

Officials say they should know by the end of the year whether the eradication plan is working.

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