31 May 2018

Farmers at country club: ‘We want to stop the spread’

From Checkpoint, 5:25 pm on 31 May 2018

A small Tararua farming community has told the agriculture minister of the uncertainty facing it because of the cattle disease Mycoplasma bovis.

Damien O'Connor visited the community of Makuri near Pahiatua today as part of the government's Mycoplasma bovis roadshow.

Tararua district mayor and farmer Tracey Collis was there and told Checkpoint there was a lot to be learned from the Mycoplasma bovis scare.

"Watching the uncertainty in farmers in the district - it's not something you wouldn't wish on anybody," she said.

"I think we need to tidy up our practises. [Husband] Mike and I spent five years as organic dairy farmers and within that system anything that came onto the farm was cleaned."

Processes around contact with other animals, how boundaries were managed and where cows were grazed off  - where they were kept in the non-milking season - needed to evaluated, Ms Collis said.

"There's all those processes to think about to make sure we don't have contact with other animals." 

Federated Farmers and Meat and Wool chairperson Sally Dryland is a sheep and beef farmer in the area and agreed more thought needed to go into farming practises.

"If we can manage to eradicate this long-term, the pathways of share milking will still be there."

Ms Dryland said she knew a family who had the cattle disease and another that was suspected but was now cleared of it.

"That's part of the privacy thing and why it's so awkward. They've come through now without being ostracised from the community because the testing proved they didn't have it," she said.

"Say it was a stud farm. That would be the end of their thing. Their reputation would be shot if we'd put it out too early.

"It's not easy on anyone. We want to come through with every person intact, if nothing else."