Farmers urge locals to help keep Horowhenua M. bovis free

Published on 01 June 2018

Cow.

The community can make a big difference to efforts to keep Horowhenua free of cattle disease Mycoplasma bovis, is the message from the District’s farmers.

The disease, which first appeared in New Zealand last year, poses a serious threat to the dairy industry in Horowhenua and throughout the country. It can cause mastitis, tuberculosis, abortion and lameness in cattle, and is potentially lethal.

Horowhenua Rural Support Trust spokesperson Geoff Kane said while the disease is not yet in Horowhenua up to 120,000 cows are expected to be slaughtered nationally in an effort to eradicate the disease.

“It will hurt local businesses, Fonterra and farmers. Disinfection of affected farms takes 60 days, so farmers have no income during that time,” he said.

Mr Kane shared advice for members of the public who wanted to support local farmers in keeping M. bovis out of the District.

“Be understanding. It’s not transferable to humans and milk and meat are still great products,” he said.

“Nobody benefits from playing a blame game. Just do what you can to support anyone affected by it.”

People could help farmers by realising that farming is going to change, he said.

While it was unlikely that access to a farm would be stopped unless it was quarantined, Mr Kane is urging people and businesses to ask before entering a farm.

“Farmers are going to have to be very careful about who enters their properties, as their whole life’s work and animals are at stake. We’re urging the community to adhere to any disinfection procedures in place.”

Furthermore, people needed to accept that traditional events on the New Zealand rural community calendar, such as field days, agricultural shows and calf club days could be affected.

For farmers, it’s a matter of getting on with the job, he said.

“Just be aware that extra precautions are always part of being prepared, but more than ever keep a good network of support so you can act quickly to minimise the impact of any outbreaks.”