'A positive step but time will tell': Farmers on M bovis support

A dairy farming lobby group says the best thing the Government can do to help those coping with the Mycoplasma bovis outbreak is to speed up the compensation process.

A range of measures have been announced by the Government to help affected farmers, including extra support and online tools to help calculate losses.

Federated Farmers Dairy spokesperson Chris Lewis said the improvements are very much welcome, but the real test will be how much of a difference they make.

"These announcements sound good on paper, but you have to action them on the ground and make sure they are bedded in and working well for farmers," he said.

He said the biggest frustration for farmers is the beauracratic nightmare they struggle with and getting some direct answers from the Ministry for Primary Industries, which slows down the compensation process.

"Dairy farmers are used to getting a cheque on the 20th of each month, and when you get your herd culled and that no longer comes in, the people you owe money to are not impressed - and that puts a lot of stress on a farming family," said Mr Lewis.

The Mycoplasma bovis support package includes:

- DairyNZ and Beef+LambNZ Compensation Assistance Team: DairyNZ and Beef + LambNZ have put together a team of rural professionals who understand both farming and the compensation process who can sit down and work with farmers on their claims. The $400,000 cost is funded through the response.

- Improved compensation form and guide: Set to be released this week, the 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.

- Online milk production losses calculation tool: An online tool for farmers to easily estimate their milk production losses, to speed up compensation claims, will shortly be released.

- Rural Support Trust boost: MPI has now completed training 80 Rural Support Trust members to provide welfare support.

- Regional Recovery Managers, in addition to the Acute Recovery Team: The Regional Centres 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 tailor-made recovery plan.