27 Mar 2018

Farmer fears delays over M Bovis compensation

7:31 pm on 27 March 2018

A North Canterbury farmer whose cattle were slaughtered after the disease Mycoplasma bovis was detected on his farm worries it may be years before he's compensated by the government.

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Photo: RNZ / Russell Palmer

Kerry Dwyer ran a calf rearing business near Oamaru, but had to send all 400 of his calves to slaughter in September last year after the disease was discovered on his farm.

Mr Dwyer said he still had not seen any money from the Ministry for Primary Industries (MPI), six months after sending his calves to slaugther, and had struggled to get a clear answer about what he was eligible to be compensated for.

"We're stuffed," Mr Dwyer said.

"I would like MPI Compensation to publicise their guidelines on how they assess claims, and I would like independent people to review those guidelines before we get into court cases arguing with them."

The government yesterday announced all 22,000 cattle infected with the disease will be culled, and MPI said farmers affected by Mycoplasma Bovis would be compensated for their verifiable losses.

However, Mr Dwyer said he could not start rebuilding and buying more stock until MPI paid him for his loss, and worried the compensation process could take years.

In a statement, the ministry said it was boosting its compensation capacity and capability to process claims as quickly as possible so farmers would not be out of pocket for longer than they need to be.

It said so far five farmers had received partial payments totalling $1.3 million compensating for stock depopulation.

"A claim can only be assessed once we have all the necessary information. It then goes through a standard approval process. We've advised farmers that the length of time it takes to get their claim processed is directly related to the information they provide," it said.

MPI said the process was appropriately rigorous because it was dealing with taxpayer money.

"MPI has received Cabinet approval to spend up to $60m on M Bovis compensation claims. We are confident that this will be adequate for farmers affected by the cull decision," it said.

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