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Bad NAIT records found in M. bovis inspection

Ministry of Primary industries has discovered “poor NAIT [National Animal Identification and Tracing] practices” while investigating infected properties in Canterbury, and now it is urging all farmers to keep good records if they want to avoid hefty fines. 

Mycoplasma bovis [M. bovis] programme director Simon Andrew said farmers who didn’t keep accurate NAIT records put others at risk and could hinder efforts to eradicate the disease.

 He said there were currently six active confirmed properties with M. bovis infection, and a controlled area notice remained in place for the Wakanui area in Mid-Canterbury.

MPI said the notice was likely to be removed by January. 

From 2017, the Wellington region, which is largely Wairarapa, had six farms locked down with the disease.

Wairarapa has now successfully eliminated the disease.

The most recent M. bovis update said no North Island properties were locked down.

As of December 1, 178,759 cattle have been culled.

Andrew said most of the infected properties would be cleared by early next year, and eradication remained on track, but it was vital all farmers used NAIT properly.

“In our tracing work, we have identified some poor NAIT practices, which is disappointing. 

“Good NAIT records allow us to track any infection quickly, whereas poor records slow us down and heightens the risk that other farmers’ cattle are exposed to M. bovis.

“We’ve come a long way thanks to the hard work of farmers and the wider farming community and as we approach the end of another year, it’s timely to encourage farmers to do the right thing.”

 Andrew said incomplete NAIT records had resulted in farms being placed under movement controls, which may not have been the case if animals were properly accounted for under the NAIT system.

“Farmers should be aware that, where necessary, the M. bovis eradication programme will refer those with poor NAIT records to MPI’s compliance team for investigation.”

MPI’s national manager of animal welfare and NAIT Compliance, Gray Harrison, said while NAIT use had improved, more work was needed.

“When a person in charge of animals fails their NAIT obligations, they potentially put the whole sector at risk.

 He said there had been an improvement with registering animals after they were tagged.

“But I’m concerned there appears to be a belief that this obligation starts and finishes with the person who has animals born on a farm.”

“Every person who has NAIT animals on their property, that were not born there, must ensure they are tagged, registered, and have had their movement recorded into the NAIT system.”

Harrison said not recording animal movements in NAIT could make farmers liable for an infringement or court prosecution if those animals remained unregistered, and, or, not recorded in a movement.

 “We’ve had some serious cases before the court this year involving hundreds of unregistered animals, resulting in thousands of dollars in fines.

He said the consequences might seem severe, but they were a drop in the ocean compared to what it would cost to this country if this disease, or something similar, gained a foothold in New Zealand.

 

Grace Prior
Grace Prior
Grace Prior is a senior reporter at the Wairarapa Times-Age with a keen interest in environmental issues. Grace is the paper’s health reporter and regularly covers the rural sector, weather, Greater Wellington Regional Council, and coastal stories.

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