Joint M. bovis eradication plan reaches significant milestone

Four years into a world-first attempt to eradicate Mycoplasma bovis, agreed jointly between the Government and farming sector groups, just one infected property remains in New Zealand.

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern and Agriculture Minister Damien O’Connor marked the milestone at the national bulk milk testing lab MilkTestNZ in Waikato today alongside eradication partners DairyNZ and Beef + Lamb NZ.

“When we took our one shot to eradicate we did so to protect our national herd from a painful disease, our economy from a sharp shock, and our rural communities from widespread anxiety,” Jacinda Ardern said.

“Our partnership with the primary sector was critical. No one in the world had attempted to eradicate M. bovis before, and if we were going to try something that had never been done, we needed to do so together.

“I want to acknowledge how tough it’s been for those farmers who have lost their herds and stock genetics built up over decades. Your action has preserved our productive sectors that underpin the prosperity of all New Zealanders.

“I acknowledge this important milestone today from which we can move forward into the next stage of the programme, to progress our goal towards eradication,” Jacinda Ardern said. Continue reading

Independent report on M.bovis response welcomed

Biosecurity and Agriculture Minister Damien O’Connor has welcomed an independent review into the Mycoplasma bovis eradication programme, which has found it is on track to achieve eradication and made recommendations to boost biosecurity work.

The review finds the programme is running well and is on track to achieve the world first of eradicating M.bovis, Mr O’Connor said.

It also notes the impact on farmers involved and the work the programme has done over the past two years to make necessary improvements, following a difficult start.

“We are now in a situation where we are down to four infected farms, all of which are situated in Canterbury.” Continue reading

Lincoln University Dairy Farm launches new dairy sector research

Lincoln University Dairy Farm (LUDF) is launching three new farm systems initiatives at its demonstration farm, all geared at sustainable dairy farming practices.

The three new systems will expand LUDF’s focus and extend its outlook through to 2030. The research is on variable milking frequency; moving the forage base to include plantain; and replacement rate reduction.

The South Island Dairying Demonstration Centre (SIDDC) has revised the LUDF systems to more effectively contribute to New Zealand dairying and the wider primary sector.

Speaking on behalf of the partnership, Lincoln University Deputy Vice-Chancellor Professor Grant Edwards explains that SIDDC is committed to taking a leadership role in dairy farming in New Zealand through LUDF.

“It’s important that the partnership regularly reassesses and revisits the farm’s systems to consolidate its position at the vanguard of current and future scenarios.” Continue reading

Report highlights intensive winter grazing efforts by farm organisations

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A new report shows that farmers and regional councils are working together to improve practices with help from industry organisations such as B+LNZ.

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The Government put the implementation of the intensive winter grazing (IWG) rules on hold in March  after hearing significant concerns from industry on the practicality and workability of the rules.  The pause was conditional on increased monitoring and performance to ensure measurable improvements in relation to practice change and environmental outcomes, including documented plans.

Regional councils have recently released a report on how well farmers are adopting best management practice for these activities.

The report shows that efforts have been ramped up across the country. It confirms that farmers and councils are working together to improve their methods of winter grazing with help from industry organisations such as B+LNZ and DairyNZ. Continue reading

Review panel appointed to learn the lessons from NZ’s response to M. bovis

An independent review of the Mycoplasma bovis Programme is being carried out to identify lessons that can be learned from New Zealand’s largest biosecurity response.

Programme partners DairyNZ, Beef + Lamb New Zealand and the Ministry for Primary Industries have appointed Professor Nicola Shadbolt (Chair), Dr. Roger Paskin, Professor Caroline Saunders and Mr Tony Cleland to carry out the review.

DairyNZ chair Jim van der Poel said it was best practice to carry out a review of an eradication programme of this scale and was also a commitment made to farmers at the start of the programme.

“Eradicating M. bovis is hard work but with the whole sector working together, we have made really good progress. It’s important we capture what we’ve learned and utilise it for anything we might face in the future.”

Beef + Lamb New Zealand chair Andrew Morrison said it supported the review.

“There’s been a lot of good work by farmers and people involved in the Programme and we have worked hard to make improvements. We have a philosophy of continuous improvement and this review is the next step in our journey.”

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Research shows NZ dairy the world’s most emissions-efficient

New research shows New Zealand dairy farmers have the world’s lowest carbon footprint – at half the emissions of other international producers.

A statement issued jointly by AgResearch and DairyNZ tells the story:

AgResearch analysis released today confirms New Zealand retains its outstanding position in low-emission dairy milk production, with an on-farm carbon footprint 46 percent less than the average of 18 countries studied.

Commissioned by DairyNZ, the study was independently produced by AgResearch and peer-reviewed by an international specialist in Ireland.

The research analysed 55 per cent of global milk production, including major milk producing countries.

New Zealand is the most efficient producer at 0.74 kg CO2e per kg FPCM (fat and protein corrected milk) – which is 46 per cent less than the average of the countries studied. The average is 1.37 kg CO2e per kg FPCM.

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Farm organisations want Climate Change Commission to align domestic and international emissions targets

Two major farming groups have urged the Climate Change Commission to align New Zealand’s domestic policy with its international promises on climate change, RNZ reports.

DairyNZ and Beef and Lamb New Zealand contend it makes no sense for the government to do one thing within New Zealand and something else for the rest of the world.

Their concern was based on the relative importance of different greenhouse gases.

For domestic policy purposes, the legislation sets a different emissions reduction target for long-lived gases like carbon dioxide than for a short-lived gas like methane.

But its international commitment under the Paris Accords of 2015 treats all greenhouse gases the same. Continue reading

Independent TAG report supports ongoing improvements to M. bovis Programme

The latest report from the independent Technical Advisory Group (TAG) for the Mycoplasma bovis (M. bovis) Programme concludes that achieving eradication is feasible, and supports the changes the programme has made over the past six months.

The 18 October report supports the findings of the earlier Paskin (DairyNZ) and Roche (MPI) reviews and acknowledges the substantial changes made to the programme based on those reports, including improvements to information management systems, resourcing, management, and communications.

The TAG made 10 recommendations, which the programme has accepted. The TAG highlighted four recommendations as being the highest priority: Continue reading

Dairy industry receives boost with $25 million sustainable innovation programme

A new $25.68 million innovation programme for New Zealand’s dairy industry will drive improvements in the health and wellbeing of the national dairy herd and be a step-change in sustainable milk production.  

The seven-year programme, called Resilient Dairy: Innovative Breeding for a Sustainable Future, launched today and is being led by farmer-owned herd improvement co-operative Livestock Improvement Corporation (LIC) with investment and support from the Ministry for Primary Industries (MPI) and DairyNZ.

It will invest in new disease management technologies and advancements in genomic science to improve cow productivity, and produce better cows with improved health, well-being, and environmental resilience.

The programme was officially launched at the National Fieldays today by Agriculture Minister Damien O’Connor.
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Evaluation panel to consider funding for Mycoplasma bovis diagnostics research proposals

The Ministry for Primary Industries (MPI), together with DairyNZ and Beef + Lamb NZ, is calling for proposals for the diagnostics research outlined in the Mycoplasma bovis (M. bovis) Science Plan.

Accelerating the eradication of M. bovis from New Zealand is the main objective of the science plan and only diagnostics research that will contribute towards achieving this will be funded.

Dr John Roche, chair of the M. bovis Strategic Science Advisory Group and MPI’s chief science adviser, is looking forward to seeing what researchers and companies will put forward in response. Continue reading