Govt announces assistance team for Mycoplasma Bovis-affected farms

The Government has announced a package aimed at helping farmers recover after being affected by cattle disease Mycoplasma bovis.

Affected farmers have expressed frustration over compensation taking too long. The new measures aim to speed up the process.

A single strain of the disease has infected 36 farms in New Zealand. The Government launched a major biosecurity response, aiming to wipe it out entirely.

Around $25.6m in compensation has been paid out to farmers who have had to send stock to slaughter.             

"Losing herds, pets and years of stock genetics built up over decades is an incredible hit to take for New Zealand's one shot to protect our national herd and economic base," Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said.

"For those families whose farms have been cleared of Mycoplasma bovis, restocking marks an important turning point - it allows them to begin moving forward again."

The recovery package, rolled out by the Ministry for Primary Industries (MPI) and DairyNZ and Beef+LambNZ includes:

  • DairyNZ and Beef + LambNZ have put together a team of rural professionals who will work with farmers on their claims. The $400,000 cost is funded through the response.
  • A simplified form will be easier to follow and the supporting guide will make clear what documents need to be submitted to ensure prompt payment of compensation claims
  • An online tool for farmers to estimate their milk production losses, to speed up compensation claims.
  • MPI has completed training 80 Rural Support Trust members to provide welfare support.
  • Regional Recovery Managers in Invercargill, Oamaru, Ashburton and Hamilton will each have a regional recovery manager. They are being nominated and seconded by DairyNZ and Beef+LambNZ and will help farmers develop a recovery plan

The announcement was made on Bryce and Julie Stevenson's beef farm in Wairarapa, which has restocked after eradicating Mycoplasma bovis.

"The process was not straight forward. We didn't know what was going to happen next and things happened a lot slower than we would have liked," Mr and Ms Stevenson said.

"We lost control of our business. We found MPI the majority of the time slow and awkward, which added to our stress.

"We are still going through the compensation process and hope that we come out of this no worse off."

Mr O'Connor said confirmation of newly identified properties does not mean the disease is spreading.

"It means we are tracing historically infected cattle and milk movements, many of which occurred before the disease had been discovered."