OPINION: Your old mate had a bit of a giggle at current Agriculture Minister Damien O'Connor's effusive praise of the primary sector, when releasing the latest MPI SOPI report late last year.
“The decision to attempt eradication was a big one for the Government and our sector partners, DairyNZ and Beef + Lamb New Zealand,” O’Connor says.
“It was driven by a motivation to prevent endemic M. bovis in our national herd and the associated animal welfare, economic and social costs for all farmers that it would bring. The economic cost of endemic M. bovis would top $1 billion in the first 10 years alone and continue to burden the sector into the future.
“The review finds that the programme is running well and is on track to achieve the world first of eradicating M.bovis. It also notes the impact on farmers involved and the work the programme has done over the past two years to make necessary improvements, following a difficult start.
“We are now in a situation where we are down to four infected farms, all of which are situated in Canterbury.
“I want to acknowledge the sacrifices made by farmers and the hard work of sector groups and the people on the M.bovis programme.’’
O’Connor says he thanks the reviewers for their work.
“The review panel has made some sensible recommendations for us and the primary sector to boost biosecurity and future animal disease responses.
“By working together, and taking the lessons and improvements from the M.bovis programme with us, we are better placed to meet future biosecurity challenges,’’ O’Connor says.