Govt announces faster M.Bovis recovery package

By Talisa Kupenga

A recovery package to help farmers get back to business faster after being cleared of Mycoplasma Bovis has been announced by the government.

So far more than 43,004 cows have been culled since the latest disease outbreak.

Government representatives visited the Stevenson family’s Wairarapa farm, now clear of M.Bovis.  It's one of 36 in the country in 'recovery mode'.

Farmer Bryce Stevenson says "We're happy to be on the other side of M.Bovis and we're happy to get cattle back on the property."

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern says, "Recovery mode means developing up a management plan, restocking after culling, going through the compensation process and getting back on track."

Around $25mil compensation has been paid to date but a slow process has been the crux of frustration for many farmers.

Stevenson says "We lost control of our business. We found MPI majority of the time to be awkward and slow which added to our stress."

Ardern says, "We've gone from about 100 days to about 19 days- thereabouts- but we know we can do even better than that again."

The government's package aims to streamline the process, with a new Dairy NZ and Beef + Lamb NZ compensation assistance team, an improved compensation form and guide, an online milk production losses calculation tool, and a boost to the Rural Support Trust.

Biosecurity Minister Damien O’Connor says, "Bringing together Beef and Lamb, Dairy NZ with MPI into a team that will actually sit down with each farmer from day one is really important and we’ve been talking about it and it hasn't happened but it will happen from now."

National’s biosecurity spokesman Nathan Guy says, "There's a feeling in rural communities that this should have happened sooner.  It's good that the government and the support industries have come onboard and realised that compensation has been too slow."

The government expects to have a better idea whether M.Bovis can be eradicated entirely come December