Where else is M Bovis?

December 14, 2017

Mycoplasma bovis has been found in the North Island and Southland.

The Ministry for Primary Industries (MPI) has identified 4 new properties as positive for the bacterial cattle disease Mycoplasma bovis and strongly suspects one further property.

One of the latest infected properties is in the Hastings district, the other 3 are within a farming enterprise in Winton. The suspect property is near Ashburton.

MPI’s Director of Response, Geoff Gwyn says early indications are that all the properties have links with the Van Leeuwen Dairy Group (VLDG) through cattle movements.

“The Hastings and Ashburton properties were identified through our tracing programme and the Winton property was identified through the industry milk testing programme.

“All of the movements we have been tracing are prior to 21 July, when the disease was first detected and notified to MPI.

The stock on these properties all has links back to the property where the disease was first identified.

The problem is no-one knows where it came from and how it got there.

It is possible, maybe probable, it is on other farms but hasn’t been identified which raises the question of where else it might be.

It carries no risk to people but it is serious in cattle and spreads from animal to animal.

“The Hastings and Winton properties are now under a Restricted Place Notice under the Biosecurity Act. This effectively places them in quarantine lockdown – restricting the movement of animals and other risk goods on and off the farm. The suspect property is under voluntary movement controls until their status is confirmed. MPI is working closely with them.

Mr Gwyn says these new developments are not good news.
“We’re still analysing what this means for the wider response. We’re dealing with a lot of uncertainty. Our investigators are building a picture of stock movements onto and off these farms so we will not be making hasty decisions on next steps.

“While it’s really disappointing to have these new properties, it is not totally unexpected. We know that this disease is spread through contact between animals and through the movement of stock – as is the case here.

“It was always possible further infected properties would be found, buying, selling and moving stock is a common practice in farming. A key part of our response has been identifying and investigating animals that have moved to or from affected properties before Mycoplasma bovis was first detected. This tracing is complex detective work which takes time.

“I know an obvious question people will have is ‘Why has it taken this long to find these properties?’. The answer to that lies with the nature of this particular bacteria.

“It is a tricky thing to find and often hides within an animal, lying dormant and not revealing itself for weeks or months. Some cattle may be infected and never show signs of the disease. This is why we test multiple times using multiple kinds of tests. Sometimes to confirm the disease we have to test organ tissue from animals at slaughter as was the case in Hastings.

This is a very slow process which is frustrating and concerning  for everyone involved but the diffiuclty in identifying infected animals isn’t peculiar to Mycoplasma bovis.

Some cows in our herd tested positive for TB several years ago. The infected cows were killed, the herd was tested again and any cow that reacted was killed – most didn’t have the disease.

The herd eventually tested all clear but a couple of years later we got another positive test. We went through the same process and eventually the herd was cleared.

Some time after that a cow from our original herd dried herself off and was culled. When she was killed she was found to be riddled with TB. The vets said that was the carrier they’d been looking for and, if I understand what they said correctly, her system hadn’t reacted to the multiple tests she’d undergone because it was busy fighting the disease.

Mr Gwyn said MPI is continuing with its policy of not naming the affected properties if the owners did not want this.

MPI is prevented from doing otherwise by the Privacy Act. However, we do understand community concern about the disease and we are strongly encouraging farmers under controls or investigation to talk to their neighbours, customers and suppliers.”

That would be my advice.

Neighbours and anyone coming on to the farms will know which properties are under controls and the grapevine will be spreading the news.

It’s far better to be up front and give the facts than to let rumours spread based on only part of the story and misinformation.

Mr Gwyn said the depopulation programme is almost complete on the infected Van Leeuwen properties and is on track to be completed before Christmas. To date over 3,500 animals have been culled.

“Our extensive testing and tracing work also continues. So far the MPI lab has completed over 55,000 tests and our investigators have followed up 250 properties around the country.

“We encourage all farmers and rural contractors to help protect their farms and businesses by following standard on-farm hygiene best practice and to ensure their NAIT and all farm records are kept up to date.” Full information on hygiene measures and other resources are available on the MPI website.

“This is a really tough time for all the affected farmers who find themselves in this situation through no fault of their own. MPI, Rural Support Trusts and industry are supporting them but they will also need support from their neighbours and communities, especially at what is already a stressful time of year.”

MPI will be holding a public meeting in the Hastings area on the evening of Wednesday, 20 December. Time and venue are to be confirmed. Keep an eye of the MPI Facebook page for event details.

Federated Farmers echoes the advice on hygiene measures:

Good on-farm biosecurity and accurate tracing of animal movement is not an option in today’s world, it’s an imperative, Federated Farmers President Katie Milne said.

Positive tests for Mycoplasma bovis in herds in Hastings and Winton (Southland) and a suspected case in Ashburton further underline the need for farmers to treat biosecurity measures on their own properties as a top priority.

Federated Farmers and other industry leaders remain committed to eradicating Mycoplasma bovis, even though today’s announcement makes that a bigger but by no means impossible challenge, Katie said.

“Don’t rely on others to protect your patch, protect it yourself. In the end, we are all biosecurity officers with a role to play.”

Establishing a 1.5m buffer along fence lines with neighbouring properties should be standard practice. Where practical that could be a vegetation buffer, which would deliver biosecurity and biodiversity benefits. Close and repeated contact with an infected animal is still regarded as the most likely way Mycoplasma bovis is spread. As one farmer said at a recent meeting, “losing some grazing is a small cost compared to losing your herd”.

If vets and AI technicians are visiting your property make sure they have thoroughly cleaned their equipment before they arrive and do so before they leave, and provide hot water and disinfectant for their hands and equipment. Consider making a footbath and a scrubbing brush handy for the boots of all visitors coming onto, and leaving, your farm.

“Think about your own actions too. If you’re visiting a neighbour, clean your boots and any gear you might bring,” Katie said.

“Making sure your NAIT records are right up to date, giving special attention to recording stock movements. 100% compliance with traceability requirements [NAIT and Animal Status Declaration (ASD)] is not only vital for biosecurity but increasingly important as we sell our high quality product to discerning customers.”

Where practical, limit cattle movements onto your farm. Mycoplasma bovis can be present in apparently healthy animals and there is currently no sufficiently reliable, pre-movement test that can be applied to detect latent or hidden infection. Farmers with leased/loaned terminal bulls may need to think about sending them straight to slaughter. This may well mean a change in practice, but it’s well worth thinking about and discussing with the bulls’ owner.

Federated Farmers does not know who the newly-affected farmers are as their privacy is important, Katie said. “We certainly extend our best wishes to them in what will be a stressful time, and we will continue to work closely with MPI and other sector groups on this sensitive and vital issue.

“Federated Farmers has been helping affected farmers where we can and as we are asked. I encourage any of the new farmers to contact us or their local Rural Support Trust if they have any questions or want assistance.”

Other biosecurity measures farmers can take are listed on the MPI’s web page.

MPI knows where the disease was first identified but nobody knows where it came from.

Any farm with cattle could be harbouring the disease without knowing it.

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Rural round-up

December 12, 2017

Family focussed on top quality – Sally Rae:

Think of the Armidale farming operation in the Maniototo and the word “quality”  springs to mind.

It is a family operation in every sense of the word and the Paterson family is justifiably proud of what they have achieved. Young Hugo (5) and Bede (3) Paterson — already keen  farmers — are  the sixth generation on the Gimmerburn property.

Last week, the Paterson family hosted a field day, as winners of the New Zealand ewe hogget competition, an accolade adding to their  considerable list of accomplishments.Armidale is farmed by Allan and Eris Paterson in partnership with their son Simon and his wife Sarah.

The family has had a presence at Armidale since the early 1880s, when a small block of land was first drawn. . . 

From Mediterranean to Maniototo farm – Sally Rae:

For the 26 years that Janine Smith lived in Greece, she always knew she would one day return home to the Maniototo — she just did not know how or when it would happen.

Managing a sailing company was a serious job that came with a lot of responsibility and, for her to leave it, it had to be ‘‘a monstrous change’’.‘‘It had to be a big contrast for me to leave Greece behind and embrace New Zealand. It had to be a steep learning curve and something I could really get hold of. So far, so good,’’ she said.

Last December, she and  partner Simon Norwick made that monumental change and traded life in the Mediterranean for farming in the Maniototo.‘‘I grew up on a farm and I’m starting from the beginning,’’ the 50-year-old said. Ms Smith, who has taken over her father Ian’s Romney and Dorset Down sheep studs, had considerable success at last month’s Canterbury A&P Show in Christchurch, winning supreme champion Romney and champion strong-woolled sheep with a Romney ram hogget. . . 

Old wool knocks prices back – Alan Williams:

Prices disappointed again at the Napier and Christchurch wool sales last Thursday.

There was strong interest in 27 to 29 micron fine lambs’ wool at Napier and other new-season lambs’ wool was also in good demand but otherwise the market was back on the previous sale, PGG Wrightson North Island auctioneer Steve Fussell said.

There were 17,000 bales split between the two venues, with 11,000 in Napier, of which 14% were passed in, not meeting the vendor reserve. The smaller Christchurch offering had a 25% pass-in rate but some second shear crossbred wools were sold higher.

The volumes included more wool from last season coming out of storage as growers decided to try to cash in on it but the clearance rate was not as good as other recent sales. . . 

Spring sheep NZ bringing sheep milk to the masses:

Spring Sheep New Zealand, a joint venture between Landcorp & a boutique food marketing company, aims to produce & market the very best sheep milk in the world.

Spring Sheep New Zealand chief operating officer Nick Hammond joins Rural Exchange about the journey of the company from its inception.

“We are fantastic at dairy. We are fantastic at sheep,” he says. “But we have no sheep milking industry.”

That’s exactly what Spring Sheep NZ aims to address, with co-funding from the Ministry of Primary Industries. . . 

Vegans are the new vegetarians – Amy Williams:

Veganism is no longer just the domain of animal rights activists and hippies but everyday people concerned about their health, animal welfare and the environment.

There’s no doubt plant-based eating is becoming more mainstream – just look at Instagram and the big money being injected into lab-made meat.

Let’s be clear, I’m not a vegan or even a vegetarian but a term exists for people jlike me. We’re reducetarians.

We aspire to eat less meat and for me it’s mainly for health and environmental reasons.

I like to eat good quality meat, knowing its provenance. . . 

 

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“I plant GM crops so I can spray more pesticide, destroy the environment and poison my friends, family and neighbours” said no farmer ever, in the history of farming.

Sweet success in manuka honey – Peter Burke:

Manuka honey could long term earn more money for a central North Island Maori trust than its sheep and beef farming operation.

Atihau Whanganui Incorporation, whose large land holdings range from the central North Island to the Whanganui River, is planting manuka on steep country largely unsuitable, or less productive, for sheep and beef.

Chief executive Andrew Beijeman says they are also letting land, which is naturally reverting back to manuka. . . 


Rural round-up

November 29, 2017

Not all gloom and doom on farming environmental front – Pat Deavoll:

I was on a field day at Mt Somers a few weeks ago sitting in a paddock with about 200 others listening to Nick France speaking on lambing his hoggets. Over the fence was a paddock of legume plantain mix. The plantain I recognised as Ecotain from having written an article on the plant a few weeks beforehand.

Apparently, Ecotain promises to significantly reduce nitrogen leaching in the urine patch. It works in four ways; by increasing the volume of cows urine which dilutes the concentration of nitrogen; by reducing the total amount of nitrogen in animals urine; by delaying the process of turning ammonium into nitrate in the urine patch; and by restricting the accumulation of nitrates in soils growing Ecotain. . .

Young horticulturist hoping to pave the way for more women as industry faces accusations of sexism – Sean Hogan:

Shanna Hickling’s typical day could involve getting her hands dirty checking soil quality along the vines, or testing and experimenting in her research lab.

“The business is very diverse, dynamic, what you are doing today will be completely different to what you’re doing the next and that makes it exciting,” the 25-year-old microbiologist told 1 NEWS.

Her passion is being recognised as she claimed the 2017 Young Horticulturalist of the Year award, becoming just the third woman to do so. . .

‘No guarantees’ for red meat trade post-Brexit:

UK and New Zealand ministers have been discussing the future of post-Brexit trade between the two countries.

Britain’s international trade secretary Liam Fox, in New Zealand on a four-day visit, has met Foreign Minister Winston Peters and Trade Minister David Parker.

New Zealand exports about $2 billion of red meat to the EU and has a tariff-free quota of 228,000 tonnes of sheepmeat a year.

Exporters are worried about what will happen to this quota during negotiations for Britain to leave the European Union. . . 

Silver Fern Farms Announce New Chief Executive’:

Silver Fern Farms’ Board of Directors has appointed Simon Limmer as its new Chief Executive.

Silver Fern Farms Co-Chair Rob Hewett says Mr Limmer has an excellent set of skills and experience to continue the strong progress Silver Fern Farms has been making as a leading red meat food company.

“The Board is excited by the leadership Simon will bring to Silver Fern Farms. Simon comes with deep commercial experience in the food, manufacturing and service sectors both here in New Zealand and in several of the key international markets in which we operate,” Mr Hewett says. . . 

It’s been 30 plus years and dairy farmers are still giving:

Rural Exchange and RadioLIVE are proud to promote IHC and to help DairyNZ spread the word about dairy farmers.

Dairy farmers are not just about kissing babies and smiling for the camera. Sure, they like babies, including ones that moo – and when the weather’s good and the grass is growing, they’re known to crack a smile.

Over the past 33 years, dairy farmers around the country have raised more than $30 million for people with intellectual disabilities. . .

More robust biosecurity measures a necessity says Feds:

Federated Farmers is pleased to see that the Ministry for Primary Industries (MPI) is toughening its stance on visitors who ignore New Zealand’s strict biosecurity laws.

MPI revealed it has increased fines by 50 percent since 2014 to air passengers who flout entry requirements, with 9100 infringement notices issued to date this year. . .

Central Otago winemaker wins Enterprising Rural Women Awards:

Central Otago winemaker Debra Cruickshank is the supreme winner of the Enterprising Rural Women Awards.

Cruickshank, of Tannacrieff Wines, was one of four finalist vying for the award at the RWNZ National Conference in Invercargill on Saturday.

At DC Wines, Cruickshank, has created Central Otago’s niche market for not only port but also provided a solution for fast-growing boutique vineyards wanting to create wine. . .

 


Rural round-up

November 1, 2017

Farmers’ efforts rewarded with improving water quality – Esther Taunton:

Taranaki has recorded its best stream health trends in 21 years, a new report shows.

The 2017 Healthy Waterways report showed water quality in the region was ‘fit for purpose’ by almost all measures within the compulsory national criteria at almost all sites most of the time.

Published by the Taranaki Regional Council, the report looked at trends from 20 years of monitoring and showed most measures were improving or not changing significantly for the ecological health and physical and chemical state of 99 per cent of Taranaki rivers and streams. . . 

No Sign of Bonamia in wild oysters:

The latest testing of the Bluff wild oyster fishery shows no sign of Bonamia ostreae, says the Ministry for Primary Industries.

The testing was part of MPI’s surveillance programme for the invasive parasite, says MPI Director of Readiness and Response Geoff Gwyn.

“This is great news for the local industry and everyone involved in the response,” says Mr Gwyn. . . 

Global meat trends look positive – Allan Barber:

2016 saw widely differing agricultural export performances between New Zealand and our trans-Tasman neighbours. According to the Red Meat Advisory Council’s State of the Industry 2017 report, Australia broke all records by increasing its exports of red meat to A$15.1 billion, up by nearly A$6 billion since 2009. It was the world’s biggest exporter of beef, second biggest for sheep meat and third biggest live exporter.

In contrast New Zealand’s exports of red meat and offal declined by $909 million to $5.9 billion or 7.4% from 2015; the fall was shared fairly evenly between beef (down $481 million) and sheep meat (down $415 million), although the percentage drop for beef was much higher at 14.4% compared with 4.6% for sheep meat. Both volume and value contributed to the decline, with the United States responsible for three quarters of the beef shortfall and the EU, including UK, responsible for half that of sheep meat. . . 

Building a NZ brand:

Beef + Lamb New Zealand’s market development team is building a compelling case for the red meat industry to work with a New Zealand brand story under which individual brands could sit.

Michael Wan, who led a marketing team on a research trip to China, United States, Germany, India, Indonesia, United Kingdom, United Arab Emirates and New Zealand, says this country needs a strong value proposition at a national level and to invest in telling its story.

The trip, which included comprehensive qualitative research at every level of the supply chain in each of the markets they visited, highlighted both a low awareness of NZ – especially its food production systems – but also the potential for growth in the lamb category. . .

Farmer Fast Five – Charles Douglas-Clifford – Claire Inkson:

The Farmers Fast Five: Where we ask a Farmer five quick questions about Farming, and what Agriculture means to them. Today we talk to Ballance Farm Environment Award Winner and Proud North Canterbury Farmer Charles Douglas-Clifford.

1.         How long have you been farming?

I have been involved in farming in one way or another all my life. I grew up on the family farm as a 6th generation descendant, finished
school and worked on various farms in Australia for a year. I then went to Lincoln University to study a BCom Ag. I went on to spend 6 years working as a rural bank manager for the National Bank in Palmerston North, Nelson and Timaru. Then in early 2012 I returned home to Stonyhurst with Erin, after getting married and have been here ever since.           

2.         What sort of farming were/are you involved in?                    

In the 6 years working as a rural manager I got to see a wide range of farming operations throughout the country. I was also
fortunate to have been in the finance sector through the global financial crisis. . . 

2017 Fonterra Elections Results Announced:

Returning Officer Warwick Lampp, of electionz.com Ltd, has declared the final results of the 2017 elections for the Fonterra Board of Directors, Directors’ Remuneration Committee and Shareholders’ Council.

Shareholders voted to elect incumbent Director John Monaghan and new Directors Brent Goldsack and Andy Macfarlane. . . 

Velvet market underpinned by growing demand:

The new deer velvet season has opened strongly, with farmers reporting early enquiry from buyers at prices 10-15 per cent above last season’s close.

Deer Industry NZ (DINZ) Asia market manager Rhys Griffiths says the price recovery is timely, given the investment many farmers are making in upgrades to their velvetting facilities.

“Regulatory changes in China last season led to a loss of buyer confidence and a dip in prices that did not reflect the steady growth in demand for NZ velvet from China and Korea, our major markets,” he says. . . 

Biosecurity Week 2017 kicks off:

Pests and diseases from offshore can cause serious harm to New Zealand’s unique environment and primary industries; and the Port of Tauranga is one of many potential gateways.

Biosecurity Week activities highlight the importance of biosecurity and the role that everyone in the Bay of Plenty can play in managing unwanted biosecurity risks says Kiwifruit Vine Health Chief Executive Barry O’Neil.

“We’re looking forward to talking to people who work on and around the Port about biosecurity – it’s such an important issue and one that really does affect everyone.” . . 

NZX plans to launch skim milk powder option contract – Tina Morrison:

(BusinessDesk) – NZX, the financial markets operator, plans to launch a global skim milk powder option contract in December in response to customer demand.

The Wellington-based company said trading volumes in its skim milk powder futures market are up 113 percent this year as interest in its suite of dairy risk management tools increases. The new contract will add to the NZX’s existing futures contracts for whole milk powder, skim milk powder, anhydrous milk fat and butter, and its whole milk powder options. . . 

Innovative trading platform Syndex announces partnership with agritech firm:

Online share exchange Syndex is supporting New Zealand agritech company Regen to undertake a major expansion.

Syndex is an independent online trading platform for any proportionally owned asset for the private economy. Fractions of agricultural assets, units in commercial property and private equity can all be funded and purchased through the Syndex exchange. . . 


World Food Day

October 16, 2017

Today is World Food Day:

FAO celebrates World Food Day each year on 16 October to commemorate the founding of the Organization in 1945. Events are organized in over 150 countries across the world, making it one of the most celebrated days of the UN calendar. These events promote worldwide awareness and action for those who suffer from hunger and for the need to ensure food security and nutritious diets for all.

World Food Day is a chance to show our commitment to Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) 2 – to achieve Zero Hunger by 2030.

It’s also a day for us to celebrate the progress we have already made towards reaching #ZeroHunger.

Why should we care about World Food Day and #ZeroHunger?

• The right to food is a basic human right.

• Investing in sustainable food systems and rural development means addressing some of the major global challenges – from feeding the world’s growing population to protecting the global climate, and tackling some of the root causes of migration and displacement.

• Achieving the 17 SDGs cannot happen without ending hunger, and without having sustainable and resilient, climate-compatible agriculture and food systems that deliver for the people and the planet.

• Reaching #ZeroHunger is possible: out of the 129 countries monitored by FAO, 72 have already achieved the target of halving the proportion of people who suffer from hunger by 2015; over the past 20 years, the likelihood of a child dying before age five has been nearly cut in half, with about 17,000 children saved every day; extreme poverty rates have been cut in half since 1990.

Ten facts you need to know about Hunger

  1. The world produces enough food to feed everyone, yet, about 800 million people suffer from hunger. That is one in nine people. 60% of them are women.
  2. About 80% of the world’s extreme poor live in rural areas. Most of them depend on agriculture.
  3. Hunger kills more people every year than malaria, tuberculosis and aids combined.
  4. Around 45% of infant deaths are related to malnutrition.
  5. The cost of malnutrition to the global economy is the equivalent of USD 3.5 trillion a year.
  6. 1.9 billion people – more than a quarter of the world’s population – are overweight.
  7. One third of the food produced worldwide is lost or wasted.
  8. The world will need to produce 60 percent more food by 2050 to feed a growing population.
  9. No other sector is more sensitive to climate change than agriculture.
  10. FAO works mainly in rural areas, in 130 countries. We work with governments, civil society, the private sector and other partners to achieve #ZeroHunger.

Let’s not forget where most of the food comes from:

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Eating is an agricultural act – Wendell Berry.

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A farmer works to that the world can eat.

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If you ate today, thank a farmer.


4,000 cattle to be culled

October 13, 2017

The Ministry of Primary Industries has ordered around 4,000 cows from seven farms to be culled to prevent the spread of Mycoplasma bovis:

The Ministry for Primary Industries is moving forward with control measures to prevent further spread of the cattle disease Mycoplasma bovis, with plans being developed with farmers to cull animals from the known infected farms.

“Since the start of this response in late July, we’ve carried out tens of thousands of tests of the infected, neighbouring and trace properties as well as district-wide testing in Waimate and Waitaki, and nationwide testing of bulk milk,” says MPI’s Director of Response, Geoff Gwyn.

“The only positive results for the disease have been on 7 infected properties, leading us to be cautiously optimistic that we are dealing with a localised area of infection around Oamaru,” Mr Gwyn says.

“To prevent further spread of the disease, around 4,000 cattle on 5 of the 7 infected properties will need to be culled and a programme put in place to decontaminate the properties and then re-populate the farms. The 2 other properties have had a small number of animals culled already and no cattle remain.

“This whole operation is about managing the disease while keeping our future options open. We want to minimise the risk of further spread of the disease.  Moving ahead with depopulation of the affected farms will allow them to get back to normal business as soon as it is safe to do so.”

Currently there is no need to remove animals from other farms in the Van Leeuwen group that are under restrictions. Testing of animals on those farms continues and should infection be found, they will be subject to the same measures.

In the coming weeks MPI will be working closely with the animal industry bodies, the Rural Support Trust and others to support the affected farmers.

DairyNZ, Federated Farmers and Beef+Lamb New Zealand support the actions MPI is taking, while at the same time recognising that this is a difficult time for the farmers involved. The industry bodies believe the measures are necessary to protect New Zealand cattle farms against this disease. New Zealand is one of the few countries in the world where Mycoplasma bovis is not endemic, which is why the industry groups support such significant measures to keep it that way.

“The coming weeks will present new challenges and will be tough for these affected farmers. MPI will work with those affected to make the process as straight forward as possible. I’d like to particularly thank the owners, sharemilkers and farm workers involved for their ongoing support, recognising this is a very difficult time for them,” Mr Gwyn says.

“I want to be very clear that this isn’t something that’s going to start tomorrow. This is a big logistical exercise, it needs to be thoroughly planned and co-ordinated and we will be doing it with the farmers who know their businesses best,” Mr Gwyn says.

MPI anticipates the first stage of the process – removing the animals – will start after consultation with affected parties. Most of the cattle will be sent for slaughter in accordance with standard practice.

All premises, transportation vehicles and equipment involved in culling will follow a strict decontamination and disinfection protocol to mitigate the risk of spreading the disease.

Once depopulation is completed, there will be at least a 60 day stand-down period where no cattle will be permitted on the farms. During this time the infected properties will be cleaned and disinfected.

Following this work, the aim will be to get cattle back on the farms as quickly as possible. Surveillance, monitoring and testing will remain in place for a period as a further safeguard.

The affected farmers can apply for compensation for verifiable losses relating to MPI exercising legal powers under the Biosecurity Act.

The disease carries no risk to human health but there is no cure for it. Culling is a drastic step but it has the support of affected farmers and industry groups including DairyNZ:

Dairy farmers around the country will be reassured by the Ministry for Primary Industries (MPI) decision to cull animals on farms infected with the disease Mycoplasma bovis (M. bovis), says DairyNZ chief executive Dr Tim Mackle.

“Since M. bovis was first identified in July farmers have been on high alert and worried about the impact of this disease,” says Dr Mackle.

“DairyNZ is supportive of MPI’s decision to step up control measures by culling these animals. However, we also know that the decision will create heartache for the affected farmers, and our sympathies are with all those involved on-farm.”

Dr Mackle says the decision follows extensive work and testing by MPI, with significant support from DairyNZ and many other agencies. Since the disease was first identified in July over 30,000 tests have been carried out by MPI.

MPI is increasingly confident that infection has not spread outside the primary farming enterprise involved with this outbreak, or any of the other farms also under restricted place notices.

Over the coming weeks there will be continued monitoring and testing in the interests of shutting down this disease in New Zealand.

He says biosecurity is fundamental to the future success of all New Zealand’s primary sectors, dairy included. . . 

This is echoed by Beef + Lamb NZ:

. . . James Parsons, chairman of B+LNZ, said: “The decision will obviously have significant implications for the farm businesses and the rural communities affected by this disease outbreak and we wish to see all available support and compensation provided to those affected. We believe these measures are necessary to protect New Zealand cattle farms against this disease.

“New Zealand takes its biosecurity very seriously and is one of the few countries in the world where this disease isn’t endemic, so that’s why the industry is willing to support such significant measures to keep it that way.” 

Federated Farmers also supports the move:

The decision to destroy stock which have been in contact with affected animals is the only option which will ensure peace of mind for the rest of New Zealand’s dairy and beef farmers, Federated Farmers President Katie Milne says.

“We also support the continuation of strict movement controls on the remaining 13 properties that have been placed under Restricted Place Notices.

“These restrictions have significant implications for the people concerned, and all other farmers, so this action is essential to keep the option of eradication on the table.”

M. bovis infected stock can be severely affected by the disease, causing pain and suffering.

“We recognise the disease has come at a significant emotional cost to the affected farming families and their animals. The process of culling whole herds will be very stressful for the people concerned.

“But the disease does not respond to treatment and cannot be vaccinated against. Culling is the only logical option to prevent ongoing suffering of the animals.”

From a national perspective, our size, relatively low population and geographic isolation gives us the ability to manage and attempt to eradicate biosecurity incursions, when other countries cannot.

“M. bovis is found in most countries, including Australia, this is a disease that we definitely don’t want and we should seek to eradicate it, if feasible.

“We’ve remained free of many pest animals and pest plants (weeds) and diseases that have decimated other country’s livestock industries. For the sake of our livestock industries and the economy, it’s crucial we act now to ensure this remains the case,” Katie says.

Culling the cattle is necessary but that won’t make it any easier.

When some of our cows tested positive for TB a few years ago we had to cull a few dozen from the herd.

That was hard enough but a very small loss compared with the thousands to be culled on these farms.

MPI will pay compensation based on the commercial value of the stock but that won’t cover the loss of income or the costs of rebuilding the herd. Nor will it replace generations of breeding that went in to building up the herd.


Rural round-up

September 14, 2017

Maniototo farmers challenge Ardern to visit them on water tax

A group of Central Otago farmers are challenging Jacinda Ardern to visit their farms to discuss Labour’s water tax plans.

The group of women, known as Water Maniototo, say they cannot afford a royalty on irrigated water, planned at one to two cents per thousand litres of water, and it could drive some off their land.

Francine Hore, who farms sheep at Patearoa, says she supports fixing up the nation’s waterways, but many farmers are doing everything they can already. . . 

Lambs hit $7/kg – Annette Scott:

Low global stocks pushing lamb markets above the odds for this season is positive news for the New Zealand sheep industry but farmers are not yet jumping with excitement, Federated Farmers meat and fibre chairman Miles Anderson says.

Latest trade statistics revealed average export prices for both chilled and frozen product were tracking well above any prices seen in recent years, including 2011, the last time NZ saw such strong global demand for lamb.

Demand for chilled lamb had held solid in recent months, driven by the tight supply with chilled prices reaching historically high levels. . . 

Broken business makes comeback – Annette Scott:

From a business that was “essentially broken” to one recording a modest profit in less than 12 months, NZ Yarn is now poised to add value for New Zealand woolgrowers.

Over the past year the Canterbury yarn processor has spun its own turnaround project.

Getting back on its feet to lift returns for farmers and shareholders had been the focus of NZ Yarn’s reinvention, chief executive Colin McKenzie said.

“A year ago the business was essentially broken.

“We have reinvented, repositioned and resized operations and moved from making sizeable losses to recording our first modest profit in July,” McKenzie said. . . 

Millions tune in watch start of fresh NZ milk sales to China through Alibaba – Gerald Piddock:

Milk New Zealand’s trade agreement with global online retailer Alibaba has been launched with millions of Chinese consumers tuning in to watch the event.

The Chinese-owned company’s Collins Road Farm is just south of Hamilton and its 29 New Zealand farms will supply Alibaba with fresh milk to be sold on its online platform.

Organisers of the launch rented a satellite facility for the day to enable it to be live streamed directly to China. In attendance were 10 of China’s biggest social media influencers including Yuni and Joyce, who are known as the Chufei Churan twins in China.

The pair are considered the Chinese Kardashians with social media follower numbers larger than New Zealand’s entire population. They and other influencers videoed the event and the farm directly to their followers in China. . . 

Water royalty point of divergence – Nicole Sharp:

Water and the environment are two of the key talking points for Southern Rural Life readers this coming election. As voting day fast approaches, reporter Nicole Sharp talked to the candidates in the rural electorates of Waitaki and Clutha-Southland about these two issues that will affect rural voters.

Water is crucial to the agricultural sector and all candidates and their parties standing in the Waitaki electorate this upcoming election want to do all they can to preserve water quality now and in the future, they say.

Current Waitaki MP and National candidate Jacqui Dean said National’s new policy statement on freshwater, which was announced last month, would pursue a target of 90% of rivers and lakes swimmable by 2040. . .

 

Canterbury cropping farmer embraces environmental limits – Tony Benny:

Third-generation Canterbury cropping farmer David Birkett isn’t phased by tougher environmental regulations and says they can even lead to an improved bottom line. He talked to Tony Benny.

David Birkett’s farm is near Leeston, not far from what has been called New Zealand’s most polluted lake, Te Waihora/Ellesmere, and he’s well used to close scrutiny of the environmental effects of farming there by the regional council, members of the public and media.

“There’s a bit of pressure on farmers but they gain out of it, that’s the silly thing. I can’t understand someone who doesn’t bother to try to do the best they can because your bottom line is going to be better,” he says.

“Doing some measuring and making sure you know what’s needed, most of the time you’re actually financially better off than what you’d previously been doing.” . . 

Adding value more than just adding cost – Nigel Malthus:

The term ‘value added’ is too often used as a vague generic, and farmers need to consider specific strategies for adding value, says Rabobank analyst Blake Holgate.

Speaking at the recent Red Meat Sector conference in Dunedin, Holgate noted that most lamb was still exported frozen, returning $6906/tonne instead of chilled at $11,897/t.

“By and large we’re still treating sheep meat as a commodity market, so the lower value frozen export market still makes up about 80% of what we export, while the higher value chilled market, that’s worth nearly twice as much per tonne, is only 20%. . .


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