New Zealand to kill 150000 cows to end bacterial disease | AP business

A restricted place notice on the roadside of a Mycoplasma bovis infected farm

GERALD PIDDOCK STUFF A restricted place notice on the roadside of a Mycoplasma bovis infected farm

The bacterium known as Mycoplasma Bovis causes pneumonia and arthritis in cattle, as well as udder infection and miscarriages, although it does not affect humans or pose a food safety hazard.

"But the alternative is the spread of the disease across our national herd", Ardern said, adding that it was vital to protect farming, a key sector of New Zealand's economy.

"If we don't take this one chance, the disease will spread and the risk of it eventually affecting many of our herds is high", Poel wrote in a statement for DairyNZ.

The country, which produces 3 percent of the world's milk and has 6.6 million dairy cows, will embark on the biggest cull in its history, to become the first country in the world to try to eradicate the cow disease.

The full cost of phased eradication over 10 years is projected at $886 million.

Officials will kill all cows on any farm where the bacteria is found, even if the cows are healthy.

Since the identification of the disease, near about twenty-six cows have already been slaughtered.

Ms Ardern and Primary Industries Minister Damien O'Connor said the government has "one shot" at eradicating a disease that causes a "painful, untreatable" illness in cattle.

Awareness of the value of the National Animal Identification and Tracing programme - which is now voluntary - had upped substantially, Mr O'Connor said.

The government will meet 68% of the cost, while farmers and the cattle industry will pay the rest, the New Zealand Herald reports.

"We do believe we are taking it on at a point that it is possible to eradicate, and more than 99 per cent of farms don't have it, and we want to protect them from having it", she said.

FILE PHOTO: Clouds gather above a cow as it grazes in a drought-effected paddock on the outskirts of the New Zealand town of Blenheim, located in the south island's Marlborough district March 12, 2013.

National Party spokesperson for Agriculture Nathan Guy said the decision to eradicate brought "a significant level of certainty to the farmers around the country".

Currently, the disease is classified as "active" on 37 properties in the country.

He was also pleased the government would speed up the compensation process for farmers whose herds were affected, with interim payments to be made within a fortnight of stock being culled. We expect to do most of the eradication work in 1-2 years.

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