Independent review into Mycoplasma bovis programme

// Biosecurity

The following email was sent to farmers on 11 November 2021.


As a partner in the Mycoplasma bovis (M. bovis) programme, we want to let you know that the findings of an independent review into the eradication programme have been released today.

The review was commissioned by the M. bovis Governance Group, which includes Beef + Lamb New Zealand, DairyNZ and MPI and you can read the report of the review panel online.

It captures lessons learned during the M. bovis response and subsequent eradication programme and makes recommendations to help the biosecurity response system be better prepared for any future livestock disease incursions. The review finds that after a difficult start, continuous improvements have been made and the Programme is on track to achieve the world’s first eradication of the disease.

In its report, the review panel acknowledge the impact that the eradication has had on farmers and the farming community as the Programme scaled-up quickly to stop the spread of the disease.

It makes a number of recommendations which we, MPI and DairyNZ have all accepted and are implementing. The four key recommendations are:

  • MPI and industry must deliver on the review recommendations and provide for ongoing governance of livestock disease preparedness
  • Develop and resource the livestock disease preparedness function within MPI (Biosecurity New Zealand), particularly for large-scale and complex animal disease incursions
  • Build a national contingency plan for animal disease responses, supported by detailed operational procedures and materials
  • Develop and resource a data strategy across the livestock biosecurity system.

Some of the improvements that have been made or are underway include:

  • The appointment of a new specialist welfare advisor within Biosecurity New Zealand to ensure a greater focus on people’s welfare needs in future incursion responses
  • A new Chief Veterinary Officer for MPI to connect the Ministry’s vets who practice across a wide range of activities; and build collaboration with the country’s private vets to enhance disease readiness
  • Investment in a new data strategy to ensure the information needs of biosecurity responses can be adequately met in future
  • An extensive programme of readiness for an FMD incursion is underway and much of this work is scalable to incursions of less severe impact
  • Threat-specific plans are in place for other critical exotic diseases
  • Work is underway with industry partners and networks outside of MPI, for example veterinarians, to ensure large scale animal incursion skill sets are identified, developed and maintained
  • The strengthening of importing requirements for cattle semen
  • Completion of the new National Biocontainment Laboratory at Wallaceville, which will enable improved disease diagnostic capability and capacity
  • The establishment of a cross government and industry working group to plan the delivery of the review recommendations.

There’s no denying the disruption and stress experienced by farmers affected by the eradication Programme and they have all made a huge sacrifice.

We owe it to those farmers to ensure the eradication programme and future biosecurity responses are the best they can be.

Implementing the recommendations of this independent review will go a long way to strengthening our biosecurity system, which will prove vital in the face of any future incursions. 

By working together, and with the right commitment, we can make the necessary and enduring improvements to biosecurity. We look forward to working in partnership with MPI and other industry groups to achieve this.

Andrew Morrison

Beef + Lamb New Zealand