Independent review seeks to learn lessons from Mycoplasma bovis response

The review is expected to take at least six months.
The review is expected to take at least six months. Photo credit: File / Getty

An independent review into the country's handling of the Mycoplasma bovis outbreak has been launched, the Ministry for Primary Industries (MPI) announced on Friday. 

The cattle disease was first confirmed in New Zealand in 2017, and since then 260 properties have been found to have been infected with M bovis, with more than 150,000 cattle being culled.

A widespread programme to eradicate the disease began in 2018 and there are now just nine properties where the disease remains "active".

Professor Nicola Shadbolt, who will chair the review panel, said it's hoped lessons can be learnt from the response to the outbreak in order to strengthen the country's biosecurity system.

"The Government and farmers have committed a great deal of time and effort to eradicating M bovis and it's been a significant undertaking for everyone involved," she said on Friday.

"We can learn a lot from looking at the response overall and understanding what went well from the beginning, what changed as the programme made improvements and what can be taken onboard for future biosecurity responses."

As well as Professor Shadbolt, the review panel will also comprise Dr Roger Paskin, Professor Caroline Saunders and Tony Cleland.

Although the first confirmed case of M bovis was in 2017, Federated Farmers says it's likely the disease entered the country two years before that.

The lobby group's president Andrew Hoggard says Federated Farmers called for an independent review in 2018 but was told it was still too early.

"We've been waiting a long time for this, and even five years on, it is still well worth doing," he said.

"We've all learnt a lot from this biosecurity response, not just MPI.  

"This will not be a witch-hunt to highlight all the things that didn't go well.  Rather it's an effort to capture what we have learned so we can all be better prepared."

The review is expected to take at least six months, with farmers set to be invited to take part at some point during the process.