Dire warning over impact of foot and mouth disease on New Zealand's economy

New Zealand's economy could take a $10 billion hit in the event of an outbreak of foot and mouth disease. That's according to one model from Biosecurity NZ.

Our border forces are on alert after the virus was found in Indonesia, including the popular holiday spot, Bali.

It affects cloven-hooved animals - which includes cows, pigs, sheep, goats and deer. And farmers here are concerned about their livestock, and what it could mean for their industry.

Just as we open up from COVID-19, another virus threatens our national security. Biosecurity New Zealand is stepping up its work at the border with a new campaign to keep out foot and mouth disease.

"It causes major illness in animals and death, loss of production, it spreads really quickly as well, so the best approach is to try and keep it out," Biosecurity NZ deputy director-general Stuart Anderson said.

New Zealand's never had an outbreak of foot and mouth - a virus that only infects cloven-hooved animals. But it could have a devastating impact on livestock and the economy.

"We could be talking quite a number of billions of dollars lost of exports lost, potentially upwards of say $10 billion," warned ASB chief economist Nick Tuffley.

But one model by Biosecurity NZ estimates it could cost the economy $15 billion.

It's a real concern because it's already present in Malaysia, China and most recently Indonesia.

Every arrival from Indonesia is now given a form. It tells them to declare goods including their shoes, farming equipment and if they've come into contact with livestock while overseas. They're also told to stay away from livestock in New Zealand for a week.

The disease decimated UK farms in 2001. More than 750 individual outbreaks forced the UK government to order the slaughter of more than a quarter of a million animals.

Dairy farmer and Federated Farmers vice-president Wayne Langford is concerned, he says it would be worse than the outbreak of Mycoplasma bovis.

"I'd describe foot and mouth disease as Mycoplasma bovis on steroids really," he told Newshub.

"We've already sent people overseas to check on the facilities in Indonesia, we'll have stricter controls at the border here and we'll alert anyone who's thinking of travelling to Bali that there's a real danger of contact with livestock," added Agriculture Minister Damien O'Connor.

Because protecting our livestock and farms from foot and mouth also protects our economy.