The first farmers to notify Mycoplasma bovis disease in 2017 blame the Government's poor response for their business woes.
While a lot of effort has gone into eradicating the disease, and there have been some major achievements, new cases show there is still some way to go before we see off M. bovis.
And judging by sentiments expressed by mid-Canterbury farmer Duncan Barr (our cover story), farmers are being left with deep mental scars, thanks in some part to the bureaucratic process.
For the Government, and the Ministry of Primary Industries, it will be worth taking note of Duncan Barr’s comments.
Many frontline staff had little idea about farming, and he says he was asked about the incidence of mastitis in bulls, when steers would be calving, and whether newborn calves had been in contact with cows.
Is this another example of how far Wellington remains from farmers?
Another organisation that should take note of Duncan Barr’s comments is DairyNZ.
It has been working closely with MPI and in its latest update says there has been significant progress made in driving down the number of farms affected by M. bovis.
However, clearly more needs to be done. Providing more assistance to farmers who have been through the harrowing experience of dealing with M. bovis on their farms would be a good start.
Farmers support the Government’s plan to eradicate M. bovis; they are forking out $272 million for the 10-year programme to attempt a world-first eradication of the disease.
To date, $349.6 million has been spent on operational costs from the start of the response (July 2017), including programme operational costs like testing, on-farm operational costs, building leases, transport, capital expenditure, contractors, staff salaries, and technology and information management systems.
This also includes $94.3 million spent on the response prior to the decision to eradicate. Farmers have received $184.9 million in compensation to date.
Everyone deserves kudos for the eradication effort, which has not been without substantial challenges and the impact on affected farmers could not be under-estimated.
Allowing the disease to spread would have caused lost productivity in our vital cattle sectors and affected the economy.
The next 12 months would be about ensuring that all infected herds had been found.
It will also require stakeholders working closely with farmers as well to minimise effect on their mental health.