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New Zealand orders mass cattle cull to eradicate disease

30 May 2018

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.

New Zealand will slaughter more than 100,000 cows in an effort to eradicate a bacterial disease.

The eradication of Mycoplasma bovis will not be an easy one, but is possible because it's not widespread and there's only one strain of the disease out there.

"The decision to eradicate the disease is driven by the government's desire to protect national livestock from the disease and protect the basis of the economy, the livestock sector", said Jacinda Ardern.

Politicians and industry leaders announced the ambitious plan on Monday. The disease most typically causes mastitis, swollen joints, pneumonia and ear infections.

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Although many cows are expected to be killed at processing plants and be used for beef, some may have to be killed and buried on farms or in specified landfills, AP reported.

According to reports, the officials in New Zealand have the right to kill the cows and enter any farm if they doubt that the farm might be affected.

The disease causes a painful and untreatable illness in cattle and Damien O'Connor, agriculture and biosecurity minister, says there's only one shot to eradicate it.

Federated Farmers, an advocacy organisation, said there were some farmers who opposed the cull but authorities needed to try to address the bacteria before it was too late.

"This is a tough time, and the pain and anguish [affected farmers] are going to go through is really disgusting", she said. They support farmers with information and advice on the practical aspects of the controls.

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A Newshub-Reid Research poll has found New Zealanders are split nearly 50/50 over whether it's right for the taxpayer to stump up the cost of eradicating the disease. That's more than two cows per person in the country.

New Zealand is the world's largest exporter of dairy products, and produces 3% of the world's milk.

Mycoplasma bovis has so far been found on 38 farms throughout New Zealand, officials say, a number they expect to rise to at least 142 farms based on computer modeling.

Around 24,000 cows have already been killed in recent months. The government plans to pick up about two-thirds of the tab while farmers and the cattle industry will pay the rest.

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New Zealand orders mass cattle cull to eradicate disease