Government puts another $68 million into eradicating Mycoplasma Bovis in NZ

A controversial programme to eradicate the cow disease Mycoplasma Bovis has hit a major milestone, with just one infected property remaining.

It comes as the Government announces a further $68 million towards eradication, part of a pre-Budget announcement to strengthen New Zealand's biosecurity system

It’s been a long battle. At its height, about 300 farms were infected with M Bovis.

"This is a milestone, not the endpoint of M Bovis," Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said. "We do expect reinfection, we do expect the really extensive surveillance regime to show we have other points of interest."

Just one farm with the disease remains in Ashburton - a large beef feedlot.

The disease causes a range of serious conditions in cattle including arthritis, mastitis and can cause pregnant cows to lose their calves. The eradication process came at a financial cost of $600 million and more than 170,000 cattle were culled. 

Ardern said the monetary cost was justified.

"This is a 10-year programme and in year four we’ve seen incredible progress.

"Had we not chosen to undertake this programme of eradication the cost to the economy and primary sector would have been in the billions."

More than $200 million was paid out to farmers who lost livestock but it hasn’t been smooth sailing. Newshub earlier revealed mistakes and delays that left some farmers at breaking point.

This led to an apology from the Ministry for Primary Industries (MPI). 

"We managed to de-centralise and put control back in the regions. Just improve our relationship with farmers and do the things that made common sense and together we’ve achieved this outcome," MPI director-general Ray Smith told Newshub.

MPI is working on shifting the eradication programme to an agency under a National Pest Management Plan.

The Government has allocated $68 million over the coming year to continue the work. 

This will be a part of a $111 million pre-Budget announcement to bolster New Zealand's biosecurity future.