Small changes for some farmers

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By Toni Williams

Some Mid Canterbury farmers dealing with Mycoplasma bovis (M.bovis) need minimal changes to their farming operations but others are having to make contingency plans on a daily basis, says Mid Canterbury Rural Support Trust welfare co-ordinator Angela Cushnie (pictured).

A Mid Canterbury property was among the four latest properties to be confirmed infected with M.bovis; the other three were in South Canterbury.

They were two dry stock farms and two dairy farms.

Six weeks into the job, Mrs Cushnie said already feedback from farmers dealing with M.bovis was a reminder of how valued trust members were as support people – assisting in good and bad moments.

“Our team is constantly looking for ways to advocate for those affected and the bottom line is that farmer friendly communication and decreased periods of waiting are two of our main problem areas,” she said.

Mrs Cushnie said M.bovis had caused some obvious flow-on effects throughout the district.

“We are seeing some trends in the community and how business interruption, as a result of the M.bovis response, affects those who are directly and indirectly involved.

“While some travel through the process with minimal changes to their farming operation required, there is another group who are having to make contingency plans on a daily basis in order to accommodate the needs of their livestock,” she said.

“We are seeing improvements in the process but there is always more that can be done to make the response people-friendly and empower farmers at every opportunity,” she said.

“Each time we are able to help put a plan in place that mitigates stressful situations we take learnings…and apply them across the board,” she said.

Mrs Cushnie said the trust was looking for opportunities to reach those directly affected in the rural community and plans were under way – in conjunction with the Ashburton A&P Society – to have a family friendly hub at next month’s show for people to attend and soak up some carnival fun.

A spokesman for Ministry for Primary Industries (MPI) said when new properties were identified, it was not an indication that the disease was “spreading”.

“Rather, it is MPI catching up with historic animal movements, many of which occurred before we were even aware that Mycoplasma bovis was in the country.”

“It is also important to note that there are properties coming through the process with the number of current infected properties remaining within the 35-40 range.”

As of late last week there were 37 properties around the country identified as infected.

The spokesman said the planned bulk milk testing programme for spring was well under way since farms started supplying milk to processors.

“The vast majority of farms have had their first round of testing and a number have started the second round,” the spokesman said.

“Farmers should ensure they are practising good biosecurity on their property and that they are satisfied with the health history and origin of any cattle coming on to their property.

“The two high risk pathways for spreading M. bovis are prolonged and repeated cow-to-cow contact and drinking infected milk so farmers should take steps to mitigate these risks.”

In the same week, four previously infected properties have had their IP status lifted.

The farms were depopulated, cleaned and disinfected and had their 60-day stand-down period.

MPI’s Recovery team was now assisting the farms with returning to normal operation.

More biosecurity advice was available on the MPI website via www.biosecurity.govt.nz