Foot-and-mouth disease readiness

Find out how New Zealand has prepared for a possible outbreak of foot-and-mouth disease (FMD) and what MPI's role would be in a response.

Government response and recovery plan for FMD 

The New Zealand Government released a new plan in December 2018 that sets out how we would respond and recover from an outbreak of foot-and-mouth disease (FMD).

The FMD plan provides information on:

  • coordination arrangements at a national level
  • the disease and its impact
  • how the New Zealand Government will manage a response and recovery effort.

It is aimed at the highest levels of Government: Ministers, chief executives, senior officials, and other personnel involved in a response and recovery effort.

MPI led development of the plan, which is the Government's first overarching FMD plan for coordinating a response and recovery effort.

Download the NZ Government foot-and-mouth disease response and recovery plan [PDF, 6.2 MB]

Government agencies work together in a response to FMD

If we ever have an outbreak of FMD, the plan requires a whole-of-government response.

MPI would implement the response plan and provide consistent and accurate information to the media. Many New Zealand agencies would play a role in a response. For example:

  • Police and the Defence Force would help with on-the-ground operations such as controlling the movement of livestock.
  • Regional councils would help to identify carcass disposal sites, and issue and monitor resource consents.
  • The Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade and MPI would negotiate the earliest possible resumption of international trade.
  • Treasury and the Reserve Bank would monitor and manage the effects on the New Zealand economy.
  • MPI, the Ministry of Social Development and the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment would help with business and infrastructure recovery, and provide support to rural communities.

Surveillance and reporting

Surveillance and reporting is vital to FMD readiness. MPI has a 24-hour hotline for people to report suspected exotic pests and diseases (such as FMD). The hotline makes reporting quick and easy and helps us to detect a disease outbreak as soon as possible.

  • Pest and disease hotline – 0800 80 99 66

Network of vets to investigate reports

MPI maintains a network of trained veterinarians around the country to investigate reports of suspected exotic diseases. These initial investigating vets are often local vets that have received special training in exotic disease recognition. They are on standby 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, so they can be at a property within hours of a report on our hotline.

If the initial investigating vet can't rule out FMD, a highly trained MPI vet (an incursion investigator) will go to the property, as soon as possible, to provide a second opinion.
MPI's Animal Health Laboratory in Wallaceville specialises in exotic animal diseases like FMD. If the incursion investigator can't rule out FMD (or another exotic disease), they will collect samples and send them to the lab to identify the disease.

Tracking tools

Locating livestock during an outbreak is critical to containing and eradicating FMD. It's also critical we can trace livestock movements that happen before FMD is discovered, to show where the disease might have spread to. New Zealand has 2 databases that help us to locate and track livestock.

FarmsOnLine is a voluntary database with farm location and ownership information gathered from New Zealand farmers.

The National Animal Identification and Tracing (NAIT) scheme traces cattle and deer movements and locations using radio frequency identification device (RFID) ear tags. Information about the animals is recorded in the database to help MPI track livestock during an event such as an FMD outbreak.

Training and development

Government and primary industry organisations regularly work together to prepare for an FMD outbreak. Training and development activities include:

  • biosecurity planning and training exercises (such as exercises Taurus and Akuaku)
  • regular training and development of MPI investigation and diagnostic staff, including travel to countries where FMD occurs to see it first-hand.

Find out more

Providers to support a response

Biosecurity New Zealand has a panel of providers that support its response activities. They are geared up to do the on-the-ground operational activities.

Having this panel (established on 1 July 2020) gives access to specialists with diverse skills and knowledge to support our responses.

The panel of providers includes AsureQuality, Cawthron Institute, New Zealand Biosecurity Services, National Institute of Water & Atmospheric Research Limited (NIWA), and SPS Biosecurity.

Services for a foot-and-mouth disease response will be procured through this panel.

Who to contact

If you think you've seen a case of FMD, call your local vet immediately – they will contact MPI's pest and disease hotline. If a vet isn't available, contact our hotline directly on 0800 80 99 66.

If you have questions about FMD, email

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