New Zealand to slaughter 150,000 cows in record cull

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

Politicians and industry leaders announced the ambitious plan on Monday.

The government would contribute about NZ$591 million to the eradication program, while the rest would be borne by industry bodies and farmers, Ardern said.

Mycoplasma bovis has been detected on more than three dozen farms since it was first detected in New Zealand previous year, leading to the slaughter of about 26,000 cattle. The disease most typically causes mastitis, swollen joints, pneumonia and ear infections. The bacteria is not a threat to humans, but can cause production delays on farms.

Since its July discovery, the bacteria was deemed "active" on 37 different properties and 26,000 cows have already been killed, the Guardian reported.

The slaughtered cattle may be used for beef, or buried on farms or in landfill. According to AP, officials indicated they won't be able to tell until the end of the year whether the mass cow killing plan will work.

The Mycoplasma bovis outbreak was the "rainy day" the government was planning for, Ardern said.

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Katie Milne, the national president of the advocacy group "Federated Farmers", emphasised the support that will be needed for farmers, however, failed to mention the 150,000 cows that will be slaughtered.

"This is a tough call - no one ever wants to see mass culls", she said.

"And we have to support them as neighbours, community members, farmers, friends".

Home to some 6.6 million cows, New Zealand is one of the world's largest exporters of dairy products. It has been found on about 40 farms so far, but 192 farms are likely to be involved in the culling. The country will spend 886 million New Zealand dollars (Rs 4,150 crore) over two years on the effort to eradicate the disease.

The fight against Mycoplasma bovis is escalating with 50 more staff, a new field headquarters and the appointment of a science adviser, says Agriculture Minister Damien O'Connor. "Let's take this window while we have it, as we will never have this opportunity again".

It is unclear whether she made any mention of the 150,000 cows set to die as part of the eradication attempt.

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