Two years after its introduction, New Zealand’s plan to eradicate the cattle disease Mycoplasma bovis is on track, says Agriculture Minister Damien O’Connor.
A key measure of success is the Estimated Dissemination Rate (EDR). If the EDR is greater than one the disease is growing, if it’s below one the disease is declining.
“The EDR is now at 0.4, which is down from over two at the start of the outbreak,” Mr O’Connor says.
“We are looking harder to find fewer infected animals. This tells us that M. bovis is not endemic in our national herd.”
Mr O’Connor says two years ago the Government and industry partners made a decision to commit to a 10-year, $880 million programme to eradicate M. bovis to protect the agriculture sector.
“Recent events have shown what an important moment this decision was for our economy,” he says.
“Had we thrown up our hands and said ‘it’s too hard’ and left this disease to run rampant, I’m not sure our dairy and beef sectors would have been able to weather the economic storm of Covid-19 and the challenges of drought conditions as well as they have.”
Mr O’Connor added that beef and dairy export prices have held up and there has been record demand for New Zealand meat. In March, total red meat monthly exports topped $1 billion for the first time. Mr O’Connor says this shows that these sectors are well-placed to lead us out of this economic crisis.
“We’ve also shown, again, that we’re able to do what others countries have not in terms of disease eradication efforts. That’s something our farming community should be really proud of,” Mr O’Connor says.