New Zealand to launch biggest culling of cows in history

New Zealand to launch biggest culling of cows in history

24,000 animals have already been killed in the launch of a mass-scale slaughter which will cost the country an estimated $886 million NZD - and won't necessarily spare healthy animals.

Local farmers Leo and Maite Bensegues told the New Zealand Herald that after they gave up their herd of 950 cows along with 200 calves, they were compensated with some $2 million to buy new livestock. Politicians and industry leaders who announced the ambitious plan say it will cost hundreds of millions of dollars, and, if successful, would be the first time an infected country has eliminated Mycoplasma bovis.

Ardern said today's decision will provide farmers with some certainty, but recognizes how painful a loss this is for farmers who are directly affected.

"[There are] 450,000 cows in Ashburton, mid-Canterbury".

New Zealand is the world's largest exporter of dairy, producing 3% of all the world's milk.

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In a normal year, about 4.2 million head of cattle are processed through New Zealand meat works.

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern is announcing the government's decision at Federated Farmers' headquarters in Wellington.

"We all agree that while there remains a chance to get rid of this disease, we should take it", he said.

All cattle on infected farms and future infected farms, plus some high-risk farms under movement controls, will need to be culled.

The slaughtered cattle may be used for beef, or buried on farms or in landfill.

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"But industry has always, from the beginning of this, been committed to working with the government to eradicate, if the science said it was feasible", she says.

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.

O'Connor said it was important all farmers showed a collective responsibility for the sake of the wider sector and get on board with the eradication plan.

Farmers in the South Island suspected the decision was being driven by North Island farmers, Jefferson said. "Everyone down here has been reasonably keen to manage it instead of eradication drive".

After Mycoplasma bovis was first discovered in New Zealand last July, the government and dairy industry had to act. We know that moving towards eradication will be a devastating decision for some, and will mean that thousands of animals will have to be culled.

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"It's not going to be easy and I acknowledge a few farmers won't be very happy at all".

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