28 May 2018

National did a 'strong job' dealing with M bovis outbreak - Bridges

1:09 pm on 28 May 2018

Dairy and beef farmers will today find out whether an attempt will be made to eradicate the cattle-disease Mycoplasma bovis, or instead go for containment.

Watch Simon Bridges on Morning Report:

The disease was discovered in July last year and since then 39 farms have been confirmed as infected, but that has now dropped to 37 farms, with more than 11,000 cattle slaughtered.

Mr Bridges this morning told Morning Report it's hard to say what course of action the opposition would take in this situation without seeing the scientific reports.

"The test is, if they have a reasonable, practical shot at eradication, they should still try for that with some off-ramps if they find that actually it's not working."

Mr Bridges said he has been in discussions with the prime minister, Nathan Guy and Damien O'Connor and he expects to be involved in finding a solution.

"We made it clear, let's not be political about this, it's too important, we want to be solutions-oriented.

"It comes down to the science, the advice they're getting from officials, we want to be very constructive about that and not second guess them, although we would like to see that evidence so we can run the ruler over it."

The National Party found out about Mycoplasma bovis in July last year, and Mr Bridges believes National did "a strong job" in dealing with the outbreak.

"Nathan Guy was briefing Cabinet and showing how seriously this was being taken very regularly from July when we knew about it."

Agriculture Minister Damien O'Connor said a large percentage of the cattle that had been killed so far were healthy animals.

He said if the government opted for eradication, that would continue.

"There are still hard calls to be made, whatever direction we head in.

Mr O'Connor said even if they opted for containment, animals might still have to be culled.

National agriculture spokesperson Nathan Guy said he was being told that officials and industry leaders were reasonably confident they could eradicate the disease.

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern and Agriculture Minister Damien O'Connor, along with industry leaders, will announce their decision at 4pm today.

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