Richard McIntyre, head of Federated Farmers sharemilkers section, was right on the money when he described plans to introduce the Farm Debt Mediation Bill as long overdue.
A viable sharemilking industry has long been a key part of the vibrancy and innovation of the dairy industry, says Federation’s Sharemilker Farm Owners Chairperson Tony Wilding.
“With the Mycoplasma bovis incursion, and the decision to try and eradicate the disease, "an extra challenge has been put in front of us," he says.
A biosecurity plan has in the past been sensible business practice under the sharemilker/farm owner model, now it’s an imperative, he says.
Federated Farmers Sharemilkers Chairperson Richard McIntyre says there is plenty of advice on the Dairy NZ website ( https://www.dairynz.co.nz/animal/cow-health/mycoplasma-bovis/) , including the kinds of questions that need to be asked if new stock is coming onto the farm.
"But there should also be discussion about how the farm will function in the medium and longer term from a biosecurity perspective.
"Even relatively simple stuff should be in the plan. For example, if you or a neighbour intends grazing stock in paddocks where there is a boundary fence, you could send them a text. One of you can then put up a break fence to keep herds from direct contact.
"Another example - there should be agreement about service bulls. Will the farm be all AI or will it get service bulls from a farm that fits ‘x’ and ‘y’ biosecurity requirements, such as a closed Hereford breeding operation, or an operation that does not bring in dairy beef. Or do the two parties agree that’s not particularly important."
The advice on the DairyNZ page can be used as a conversation starter and checklist.
"Good due diligence by both parties, and a robust biosecurity plan, will underpin a continuing, viable sharemilking industry," McIntyre says.