The New Zealand government has ordered the slaughter of about 150,000 cows in a bid to eradicate a strain of bacteria that first appeared in the national herd last year.
The cull will cost $NZ886 million ($800 million C$) and if successful, will see the elimination of Mycoplasma bovis in the country.
Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said the government has joined with the industry to work on the cull which she said she knows will have a major impact to farmers.
“We’ve made this decision in partnership with our farming sector to protect our national herd and the long-term productivity of our economic base.
If the cull succeeds, it will eliminate Mycoplasma bovis for the first time in the country where farming is vital to the national economy. New Zealand’s isolation has provided a natural barrier of protection from agricultural diseases that have affected herds in other locations.
But the country’s seclusion couldn’t escape the bacteria Mycoplasma bovis being found in New Zealand for the first time last July.
“We essentially had three options in front of us today: phased eradication, long-term management or doing nothing.
The disease has already made an impact in Europe and the US where cows infected with the bacteria can develop mastitis, pneumonia, arthritis and other diseases.
The disease is not considered a threat to food safety, but does cause production losses on farms.
“This was a tough decision and I empathise fully with those farmers going through the pain of losing their herds. Our plan to eradicate Mycoplasma bovis over time will require significant resources from both government and the industry, but to not act would cost even more.