Cull or contain?

The government will announce its decision today on whether it will attempt to eradicate Mycoplasma bovis or contain the disease.

No other country has been able to eradicate it but no other developed country has such a reliance on agriculture in general and dairying in particular.

One factor which could make it less difficult to eradicate is that all cases identified so far have been traced back to a single source. A factor making it more difficult is problems with the National Animal Identification and Tracing system (NAIT).

Those problems are due in part to the system and in part to poor compliance.

Culling all cattle on properties where the disease has been found will be heartbreaking for the farmers and sharemilkers.

It will also be very, very expensive for them and for the government which must compensate them.

Opting for containment won’t be as expensive in the short term, but will have long term human, animal welfare and financial costs.

Whichever decision is made, there must also be improvements to the NAIT system and farmers must comply with requirements to track cattle movements.

There is no good option but opting for eradication would be the less worse one.

However, if that is done, it must be accompanied by significant improvements to communication with people whose stock are infected, or potentially infected.

There must also be significant improvements to the way, and speed at which, compensation payments are made.

2 Responses to Cull or contain?

  1. Andrei says:

    There comes a point when you have to concede that any further attempts at erradication are throwing good money after bad

    I think when this disease was identified on a farm in the North Island then it was game over for any realistic hopes of eradicating it and the costs of doing so would outweigh any possible benefits

  2. Will says:

    Well, looks like they’re going for it. As with so-called ruminant emissions NZ farming is going to attempt what no other country can do. The impact on cattle farmers will be devastating. And imagine if after all that slaughtering eradication still fails. Greens will be over the moon.

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