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M.bovis confirmed on Masterton farm

BECKIE WILSON
beckie.wilson@age.co.nz

Cattle disease Mycoplasma bovis has been found for the first time in Wairarapa, but farmers are hoping it is a one-off case.

A sheep and beef farm near Masterton on Thursday brought the number of properties infected nationwide to 36.

Ministry of Primary Industries announced the farm, which has yet to be identified, had tested positive.

This brings the number of infected North Island farms to four, after the disease was found on properties in Pahiatua, Hawke’s Bay and Waikato.

The farm was identified through the tracing of animals from other infected farms, but it is not clear which infected property in the country they had come from.

The Government announced last week that it would commit to eradication and allocated $886 million to the 10-year process.

As part of this process, all cattle on the Masterton farm will be culled.

One other property in Wairarapa is under notice of direction, MPI said, with movement of goods and animals off the property restricted.

It expects to find further infected properties nationally as the extensive tracing of animal movements continues.

Farmers and industry experts were not surprised about the latest detection.

Wairarapa Federated Farmers president William Beetham said he hoped this would be the only property infected in Wairarapa.

“What we know now is that there is one infected property in Wairarapa,” he said.

“But it doesn’t mean that the entire Wairarapa is going to be infected.”

Mr Beetham said it would be a difficult time for the farmers involved, but said there was plenty of support and information available for them.

Labour list MP Kieran McAnulty said the Masterton case was not linked to the infection in Pahiatua.

“Part of the move to eradicate will be identifying further outbreaks – there’s going to be more cases confirmed before the eradication process is complete.

“The neighbouring properties, as I understand it, will be informed by MPI but I don’t know if that has happened yet.”

The news of the infected Wairarapa farm was “saddening” for the farmers and families involved, he said. Masterton deputy mayor and rural ward councillor Graham McClymont was disappointed, but not surprised, by the latest infection.

Masterton district has only five dairy farms, but many sheep and beef farms buy in friesian calves for finishing, he said.

“There’s nothing the council can do – all we can do is offer our support and hope there is an end to it.”

Mr McClymont said if the disease was detected on other properties across the district, it could start to have an economic impact on the large service industry in the town.

He expected the Government would need to make a second call on the eradication decision if the disease continued to “pop up everywhere”.

Wairarapa MP Alastair Scott understood 300 farms across the country were under restricted access, and it would “not be surprising that there are one or two in Wairarapa”.

He said MPI should be encouraging farmers of infected properties to communicate with their neighbours, which he assumed they would already be doing.