24 Oct 2018

Mycoplasma bovis eradication cost split still undecided

5:41 pm on 24 October 2018

The beef and dairy industries have yet to decide who will pay and how much of the private sector cost of eradicating Mycoplasma bovis.

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The cost of Mycoplasma bovis eradication will be partially funded by private sector. Photo: RNZ / Richard Tindiller

When the government announced in May that it would try to eradicate the disease, it agreed to fund 68 percent of the cost itself and charge 32 percent to the industry.

The private sector cost would be shared between the dairy and beef cattle sectors.

The industry groups, Beef + Lamb and Dairy NZ then began negotiating as to how that sum would be split between them.

An independent panel came back to both sides last week with a report, but its contents are being withheld.

Beef + Lamb chief executive Sam McIvor said there should be a decision next month.

The total cost of the Mycoplasma bovis eradication, programme was put at $886 million by the government in May.

But the final figure will vary, depending on what emerges as the disease, which can cause lameness, mastitis and abortions in cows, is being fought.

Figures released by the Ministry for Primary Industries on Friday show 75 farms have tested positive for the cattle disease since the disease was first detected in New Zealand in 2017.

Now, 38 of those infected farms have now been cleared of their stock and been declared safe to repopulate - with 44,130 thousand cows culled.

Debate about how the cost is split is likely to focus on several criteria, including the probability of cows catching the disease - which could weigh against dairy, whose cows huddle together more than beef cattle do.

But it is also likely to consider the effect of the disease on farming operations, which might be be harder to gauge.

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