By Toni Williams
Days after the Government and industry announced they would try to eradicate Mycoplasma bovis, more than 600 Mid Cantabrians gathered seeking answers.
Last night, under a full moon, they came in droves to listen to government and industry leaders talk about plans to eradicate Mycoplasma bovis nationwide.
The Hotel Ashburton car park, grounds and surrounding streets were littered with SUVs, four wheel drives and stock trucks.
Those who were behind the nationwide decision were also there: Agriculture Minister Damien O’Connor, the top tier of Federated Farmers, DairyNZ, Beef+LambNZ, Ministry of Primary Industries as well as their scientists and vets on the ground.
It was an open meeting organised by Federated Farmers Mid Canterbury and the turnout exceeded expectations. Extra room was made, seats were found, then it was standing room only.
But still they came.
Those in the crowd came from within the Mid Canterbury farming community; they were directly, and indirectly affected.
There were industry representatives, district leaders, those with
grazing land, and those from town.
They all wanted to hear first-hand what was going to happen. Those directly affected wanted to know how testing worked and certainty this eradication drive would work.
They wanted answers.
People knew it was going to affect them but they wanted to know how it was going to affect them, and how it was going to be stopped. There were those with cows lined up to be collected in the morning – one from negative tests.
In front of their peers, industry representatives, local media, national television crews, people outed themselves at testing positive – or in this case negative – because they wanted answers, to know why. Traceability was the likely reason; the results, once the animals culled and tonsil-tested would be forthcoming.
Others wanted details on how testing was done and compensation information; how it was worked out. All wanted assurance it was going to work. Many feared it would all
be for nought.
There was concern communication between farmers and the Ministry of Primary Industries had been lacking.
It needed to improve, they said.
An emotive meeting; frustration, tinged with sadness and fear from
the unknown was evident. But it was open and honest. Privacy
issues around NAIT and information for those accepting cows for
grazing were laughable. It was an issue that needed to be addressed.
Agriculture Minister Damien O’Connor agreed. He would get on to it.
People wanted more confidence in the system, with NAIT, the tests and the results and to know everyone was on the same page.