New Zealand Killing Tens Of Thousands Of Cows To Eradicate Disease
More than 50,000 cows have been culled and 50,000 more may go as New Zealand attempts to become the first country to eradicate the cattle disease Mycoplasma bovis.
Faced with a growing number of suspected cases at farms across the country, Kiwi lawmakers this year made a call to attempt what no other country before had managed - a costly, part-government-funded mass eradication.
The condition has serious animal welfare implications - including causing abortions and pneumonia - but poses no risk to humans or to food or milk safety.
The government's call now appears to be paying off, with ministers on Monday announcing expert feedback so far shows the plan may just work.
"At this stage I have confidence the approach we are taking to eradicate is the right one and we remain committed to this," Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said.
A report from technical advisory group to officials said "substantial progress'' had been made since the decision in May and that eradication was considered feasible.
That's given hope to farmers across the country's key dairy sector.
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"We are cautiously optimistic, and still have fingers and everything else crossed," said industry group Federate Farmers' dairy chairman, Chris Lewis.
"We certainly aren't out of the woods yet."
About 32 properties are now believed to be infected around New Zealand, with 51 cleared, and about $NZ34 million in compensation paid out to farmers so far.
The government originally expected about 126,000 cattle would be culled but ministers on Monday said that figure may end up around 100,000 - with 50,000 culled this year so far.
However, officials say despite early success testing will have to continue until 2025.
The country was previously believed to be only one of two - along with Norway - to not have encountered the disease.
Mycoplasma bovis has been recognised as a major issue in Australia since 2006, found in all dairy regions.