The way New Zealand takes on challenges and opportunities will shape the future of our food, fibre and timber industries, said Agriculture Minister Damien O’Connor at Fieldays last week.
An extra 50 staff have been trained to help farmers facing movement controls deal with the paperwork and other matters. They will act as ‘case managers’.
Extra staff are also being assigned to help farmers deal with issues on compensation.
Newly appointed science adviser Dr John Roche (ex DairyNZ) has the task of researching new tools for the fight against M. bovis.
Agriculture Minister Damien O’Connor says Roche, a PhD in ruminant nutrition from the National University of Ireland, will provide strategic science advice at MPI. His first task will be to head a new M. bovis science strategic advisory group.
“With his background in Ireland, where Mycoplasma bovis is widespread, Dr Roche will be ideally placed to lead this work,” O’Connor says.
O’Connor says little money has been spent internationally on researching M. bovis. The new group will look into testing developments to detect M. bovis in individual cows, grow understanding of the disease and identify opportunities to support the New Zealand eradication.
The battle against M. bovis is now entering a new and critical phase. It could be called ‘agricultural lotto’ because there is no certainty of a prize; it’s a case of being in to win.
It’s likely that more infected farms will come to light as winter and spring arrive and possibly the pessimists will be right and the problem will be too big for eradication.
According to Rabobank, milk production will not immediately be greatly affected although Canterbury and Southland may see production falls. But the cow cull could in the longer term affect production growth.
One thing for certain is that farming under M. bovis, or the threat of it, will be greatly different from how things are now.