The Ministry for Primary Industries (MPI) is committed to helping farmers affected by the cattle disease Mycoplasma bovis receive their due compensation and is working hard to process all current claims.
MPI's director of response, Geoff Gwyn says MPI has not yet received compensation claims relating to its decision to direct the cull of some 22,000 cattle on infected properties, which MPI announced last month.
"However, we are aware some farmers are nervous about compensation timeframes and I would like to provide reassurance that we are running as fast and efficient a process as possible.
"We have, of course, been dealing with compensation claims throughout this response, and I think both MPI and the industry have learnt a lot that will make the process more efficient."
Mr Gwyn said that MPI would consider making part-payments to farmers of infected properties who are being required to cull their entire herd.
"We are pulling out all stops to process existing claims and are nearly halfway through these by value of the claims. We are significantly increasing staffing in our compensation team to do this, and to ensure we can work at pace when the claims for the 22,000 culled animals start coming through."
"We understand that while there was some relief at the direction to depopulate infected properties, some farmers will inevitably worry about how long the compensation process could take. And yes, it can be a complex and time-consuming process because we are talking about public money.
"However, we'd like to reassure farmers that we are doing everything we can to help them get back on their feet as soon as possible while taking every step necessary to fairly administrate the compensation scheme."
As part of this, industry partners have already funded staff to help affected farmers complete their claim forms.
Mr Gwyn says providing trained, independent advisers who can support farmers to complete their applications is an important part of expediting the process.
"That’s why we're also asking industry to augment their resources so they can guide farmers through the compensation process and ensure they provide all the information we require.
MPI is directly contacting professional rural and farming advisers to offer them specific training so they can better support farmers to complete their compensation claims. It also has a comprehensive support network, which includes specialised recovery planners, to help farmers get their businesses back up and running as soon as they can.
To date, MPI has received 85 Mycoplasma bovis-related claims since the beginning of the response.
The currently-assessed value of all existing claims is just under $6 million. MPI has paid out $2.5 million in compensation to date, with a further $1.5 million expected to be paid within the next fortnight – bringing the total to just over $4 million. The remaining claims will be settled as quickly as possible.
Losses must be able to be verified
Affected farmers can claim compensation where MPI's exercise of legal powers under the Biosecurity Act 1993 has caused them a verifiable loss, either:
- as a result of damage to or destruction of the person's property, or
- as a result of restrictions imposed on the movement or disposal of the person's goods.
All compensation claims require evidence of verifiable loss, which can be in the form of invoices or statements. All compensation payments for culled cattle are based on market valuations carried out by an independent valuer.
All affected farmers are encouraged to work with their dairy advisers for advice and support on making their claims.