M bovis outbreak hits IHC charity scheme in the pocket

New Zealand charity IHC has had profits from a major fundraiser halved in the aftermath of the Mycoplasma bovis outbreak.

The charity normally collects more than $1 million in donations for a scheme in which farmers donate calves to be sold, with the profits given to IHC.

Taranaki farmer Barry Kowalewski has donated to IHC scheme for years.

"I just send a line of calves into the sale and then donate the proceeds of one to the IHC," he said.

However he said a farming fundraiser relying on stock donations has been difficult in the face of the cattle disease.

"M bovis has definitely made all of us a lot more aware of stock movements."

The M bovis outbreak has forced IHC to rethink the fundraising scheme, which it has been using for more than 30 years.

All donations from the calf scheme were spent to help rural people with intellectual disabilities.
All donations from the calf scheme were spent to help rural people with intellectual disabilities. Photo credit: Supplied

IHC National Fundraising Manager Greg Millar says the organisation has had to make some changes.

"We realised we could no longer pick up calves and get them all to sale all in the same trucks from many individual farms," he said.

Instead, people like Barry Kowalewski, take the stock themselves and donate the profits of one calf to the charity.

But with M bovis turning hundreds of farmers' lives upside down emotionally and financially, it's not surprising that donations slumped.

"We raised over $1 million a year until Mycoplasma bovis hit last year."

In 2018, that figure was roughly halved.

"A calf going to sale can be worth $400 or $500 sometimes - and all added up, it had a huge contribution to the work of IHC."

All donations from the calf scheme were spent to help rural people with intellectual disabilities. That's work some farmers, like Barry Kowalewski, will continue to support.

"What you sow is what you reap, so I've always I suppose felt that desire to help out any area of society that's underprivileged."

Meanwhile IHC is hoping the generous support it has enjoyed in the past will bounce back this year. 

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