24 Jan 2018

'Scared' farmers set up cattle disease support group

5:44 pm on 24 January 2018

Southland farmers have formed a new support group to help the region deal with the ongoing cattle disease outbreak.

No caption

File photo Photo: RNZ / Russell Palmer

Since mycoplasma bovis was first detected in New Zealand last July, 17 properties from Southland to Hawkes Bay have had cases confirmed.

The disease can cause lameness, mastitis and abortions in cows, and is spread through nose to nose contact.

Southland farmers, veterinarians, and industry stakeholders have now created the Mycoplasma bovis Action and Support Southland group.

Local farmer and spokesperson Bevan Collie said the community needed a voice to help support them.

"We aim to try and assist the farmers in understanding and dealing with this bovis outbreak."

The group saw a need to improve communication, he said.

"We also saw a need to try and help to assist in translating some of what [the Ministry for Primary Industries] and other groups were doing into practical terms for farmers... It's a pretty hard beast.

Many farmers were scared of what the outbreak meant for them, he said.

"What we're trying to do is stick [to] the facts and reduce misinformation ... The facts are always less scary than gossip."

There was still hope the disease could be eradicated in New Zealand, Mr Collie said.

"The science says it can be, and talking to MPI they're confident that all of these properties still have links together," he said.

"Farmers have to stay positive about getting rid of this disease because there's too many ramifications for us if we don't."

Get the RNZ app

for ad-free news and current affairs