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30 May 2018, 11:14 | Melissa Porter
New Zealand to cull more than 100,000 cows to eradicate Mycoplasma disease
That has since dropped to 37 farms, with more than 11,000 cattle slaughtered.
The country is trying to eradicate Mycoplasma bovis, a disease that causes mastitis, pneumonia, and arthritis in cows.
The initial outbreak led to concerns that the disease could affect market access for New Zealand's dairy products, and caused a brief dip in the New Zealand dollar.
Ardern said "we are taking this opportunity because this is our one opportunity. we know that other countries exist with this diseases but we want New Zealand to be free of it and this is our opportunity to be that country".
"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. About two-thirds are dairy cows and the rest beef cattle.
The main aim of this culling project is to protect the New Zealand economy, with milk being the countries single largest export.
Around 24,000 cows have already been killed in recent months.
Mycoplasma bovis was first detected in New Zealand in July 2017. The plan is expected to cost $886mil over 10 years.
Although all farming lobby groups have supported the decision, many farmers are reported to be angry about the cost and loss of their herds. "But the alternative is the spread of the disease across our national herd".
Around 150,000 cows will have to be culled, and Walling thinks it is possible that they could eradicate the disease. "This is a necessary, unfortunate part of not having a test that clearly identifies the individual animals yet".
"Newly appointed science adviser Dr John Roche has been tasked with researching new tools for the fight against Mycoplasma bovis".
The problem with Mycoplasma bovis is that it's hard to detect and doesn't respond to antibiotics. 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.
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