New Zealand to cull 1,26,000 cows to end disease outbreak

To spend $610 million to work to depopulate infected farms

May 28, 2018 09:28 pm | Updated 09:33 pm IST - WELLINGTON

 Cows are seen near the fence of a pastoral farm near Auckland in this August 6, 2013 photo. (FILE)

Cows are seen near the fence of a pastoral farm near Auckland in this August 6, 2013 photo. (FILE)

New Zealand, the world’s biggest dairy exporter, will spend more than NZ$880 million ($610 million) in a bid to eradicate the mycoplasma bovis cattle disease, Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said on Monday.

About 1,26,000 cows are expected to be culled, mainly over the next two years, as government and industry work to depopulate all infected farms, the government said in a statement.

The disease, which is common in many countries, was first detected in New Zealand at a farm in the South Island last July and some 37 properties have now tested positive for the illness. “Today’s decision to eradicate is driven by the government’s desire to protect the national herd from the disease and protect the base of our economy the farming sector,” Ms. Ardern said in a statement.

No risk to humans

Mycoplasma bovis can lead to conditions such as udder infection, pneumonia and arthritis in affected cattle, but does not pose a food safety risk or any risk to humans. The initial outbreak led to concerns that the disease could affect market access for New Zealand’s dairy products.

The government would contribute about NZ$591 million to the eradication programme, while the rest would be borne by industry bodies and farmers, she said.

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