13 Oct 2022

Mycoplasma bovis: Controlled area notice enforced around infected farms

9:03 am on 13 October 2022
The Controlled Area Notice defines two areas in Wakanui – a high-risk area (red) and at-risk area (orange).

The Controlled Area Notice defines two areas in Wakanui - a high-risk area (red) and at-risk area (orange). Photo: Eagle Technology, Land Information New Zealand

The next phase of the Mycoplasma bovis response begins today with a controlled area notice being enforced around infected farms.

After beginning eradication efforts in 2017, in May the government announced that there was just one infected property remaining - the ANZCO Five Star beef lot near Ashburton.

But since then three other farms in the mid-Canterbury region have become infected while a fourth is expected to be confirmed soon.

In a bid to stop the spread the Ministry for Primary Industries announced a controlled area notice in the Wakanui area near the feedlot.

Starting today it restricts the movement of cattle in and out of the area.

Of the 14 farms under the notice - eight will be completely cleared of cattle as well as the massive ANZCO feedlot which houses 12,000 cattle.

ANZCO Foods spokesperson Grant Bunting said the Five Star Beef feedlot was a complex operation with many stakeholders and suppliers providing a range of products and services.

"ANZCO Foods has been working closely with the Ministry for Primary Industries on a depopulation plan for Five Star Beef for around 18 months, as part of New Zealand's Mycoplasma bovis eradication programme.

"From this week Five Star Beef will begin the depopulation process and will be completely empty of cattle by the end of the year."

The phased depopulation process has been planned to ensure the processing site can operate as close to business as usual during this phase of the process, Bunting said.

The other eight farms being culled will be empty by mid-January.

Mid-Canterbury Rural Support Trust chair Josh Dondertman said the group had been working closely with the affected farmers.

"It's just such a stressful time, it's about listening to their frustrations and helping them work through some solutions, whether it's needing some counselling or getting a farm consultant to help them do a feed budget, because they can't move their stock."

Dondertman said his farm was once under a notice of direction so he understood the frustration.

"I couldn't move any stock on or off my farm and it became very stressful because we had to keep calves on the farm that couldn't go to grazing.

"And I was the guy that thought I didn't need to listen to RST [Rural Support Trust] and talk to them but it's amazing what it does for your well being, so if I can say one thing it's definitely just get on the phone and talk to rural support."

People should not feel ashamed asking for help, Dondertman said.

"And just just to make it clear, it's not just the farm owner or the sharemilker but we want to make sure every staff member that's on those farms if they have any concerns to ring the 0800 number to get hold of the Rural Support Trust."

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