New Zealand to slaughter 150,000 cows to wipe out painful disease

Mycoplasma bovis is the most severe economic biosecurity issue to hit New Zealand predicted to cost $1 billion over 10

Despite initially being contained to farms in the South Island, the disease has continued to spread and reached the North Island earlier this year.

The country is trying to eradicate Mycoplasma bovis, a disease that causes mastitis, pneumonia, and arthritis in cows.

"This is a tough call", said Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern.

"This is a tough time, and the pain and anguish they're going to go through is really disgusting", she said of the affected farmers. They say all the infections found so far can be traced back to a single farm, and that the bacteria likely arrived in New Zealand 18 months before they were first identified.

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Eradication has meant the culling of thousands of cows, especially in the dairy industry.

Home to some 6.6 million cows, New Zealand is one of the world's largest exporters of dairy products.

Mycoplasma bovis was first detected in New Zealand in July 2017.

Government and farming sector leaders have agreed to cull 126,000 cows and spend more than NZ$800m ($560m) over 10 years in an attempt to save the national dairy herd and protect the long-term productivity of the farming sector, which is New Zealand's second biggest export earner.

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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.

Mycoplasma Bovis does not affect milk and meat for human consumption, and most governments are content to control outbreaks.

Katie Milne, president of the advocacy group Federated Farmers, said they would try to ensure that farmers received the financial and emotional support they required.

"If we don't take this one chance, the disease will spread and the risk of it eventually affecting many of our herds is high", Poel wrote in a statement for DairyNZ.

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Officials say they expect to know by the end of the year whether the eradication plan is working.

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