‘If they take my cows…I’ll be out of farming’

From Checkpoint, 5:13 pm on 28 May 2018

After 33 years of farming, the government's decision on Mycoplasma bovis this afternoon will force Waikato farmer Henk Smit out of the industry.

Both of Mr Smit's farms are infected with the disease - the first known instance of it in the Waikato.

Speaking to Checkpoint, he said the government's announcement to eradicate the disease by culling all cattle on all infected properties - an $886 million response - made him feel as though he was "dropping in a hole".

"If they come and take my cows then I'll be out of farming - that's it. I've given 33 years of my life to this industry and this is quite hard to take actually," he said.

"The other thing is, so far I've got no reason to have faith in the compensation process. The farmers who have been dealt with are coming up severely short."

Mr Smit said NZ Dairy's support of the government's stance had left him "shocked". 

"I thought there was a bit more common sense available in the industry, especially when they don't know how widespread it is. 

"The farming community has got worse diseases to deal with, in my opinion," he said.

Mr Smit said although he had to pay bills, farming meant more to him than just money.

"But this is a problem that is out of my hands. Someone has taken that power away from me, to sort my problems," he said.

"If my cows go that is it for me; I'm not going to start all over again."

See more of RNZ's Mycoplasma bovis coverage here.