New Zealand officials have announced plans to kill around 150,000 cows in an attempt to eradicate a strain of disease-causing bacteria.
The government and agricultural leaders announced Monday that it will spend over $600 million over the next decade to rid the country of Mycoplasma bovis, which causes udder infections, pneumonia, arthritis and other illnesses. They are not considered a threat to food safety, but do cause production losses.
Jacinda Ardern, the Prime Minister of New Zealand, said in a statement, "This is a tough call - no one ever wants to see mass culls".
"Standing back and allowing the disease to spread would simply create more anxiety for all farmers", she said.
The Mycoplasma bovis was reported in New Zealand for the first time in July, 2017.
However, Ms Ardern said New Zealand - which relies heavily on livestock farming for its export earnings - would aim to eradicate the disease completely.More news: Free FIFA 18 World Cup Update Available Today
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The government said it would bear around two-thirds of the cost, while farmers and the cattle industry will pay the rest.
Federated Farmers, an advocacy organisation, said there were some farmers who opposed the cull but authorities needed to try to address the bacteria before it was too late.
"And we have to support them as neighbours, community members, farmers, friends". A further 126,000 animals, at 192 properties, will be added to the cull, at a cost of NZ$886 million (€526 million, $615 million).
The eradication of Mycoplasma bovis will not be an easy one, but is possible because it's not widespread and there's only one strain of the disease out there.
The total cost of eradication will be $870 million over 10 years - $278 million will be paid by DairyNZ and Beef + Lamb New Zealand. That has since dropped to 37 farms, with more than 11,000 cattle slaughtered. It has 6.6m dairy cows.
The fight against Mycoplasma bovis is escalating with 50 more staff, a new field headquarters and the appointment of a science adviser, says Agriculture Minister Damien O'Connor.