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MPI ‘listening’ to concerns

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Neighbours of infected farms to be told

Gianina Schwanecke

The Ministry for Primary Industries has responded to farmers’ frustration by announcing they will publish a list of farms infected with Mycoplasma bovis and inform neighbouring properties directly.

Minister for Biosecurity Damien O’Connor made the announcement on Friday after feedback from several information roadshows in rural communities.

“MPI will start directly informing neighbouring farms of infected properties or high-risk properties,” he said.

“This will mean farmers can take appropriate steps to improve their on-farm biosecurity and reduce the risk to their own stock.”

He said the policy change was a measured step, which balanced the privacy concerns of individual farmers with the need for others to strengthen biosecurity measures and protect their own farms.

“Some farmers have expressed frustration at not being formally told when a neighbour’s farm is identified as an infected property,” he said.

Wairarapa Federated Farmers president William Beetham said it would help farms work together and better respond to the spread of M.bovis.

“It’s good news.

“I think farmers want to work together and they don’t want to operate in secret, whether it’s an infected farm or a neighbour.

“I think MPI are responding to concerns of farmers and it’s a credit to them that they’re listening.”

He said there had been lots of issues around the privacy of National Animal Identification and Tracing (NAIT), but this was an opportunity for the industry to improve biosecurity systems.

“They’re also looking at increasing compliance of NAIT, including smaller properties.”

Vet Services veterinarian Stuart Bruere said it was good the decision came from farmers’ feedback.

“[Farmers] want to know and the government is responding to that.”

In small communities where properties under restricted notice are forced to put up signs, information travelled quickly, he said.

Verified information from MPI will help people protect their farms.

“The important thing is people remain calm,” Bruere said.

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