Farmers who don't keep accurate National Animal Identification and Tracing (NAIT) records put others at risk and can hinder efforts to eradicate Mycoplasma bovis, says M. bovis programme director Simon Andrew.
There are currently 6 Active Confirmed properties with M. bovis infection and a Controlled Area Notice (CAN) in place for the Wakanui area in Mid-Canterbury.
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Mr Andrew said most of the infected properties would be cleared by early next year and eradication remained on-track, but it was vital all farmers used NAIT properly.
"In our tracing work, we have identified some poor NAIT practices, which is disappointing.
"Good NAIT records allow us to track any infection quickly, whereas poor records slows us down and heightens the risk that other farmers’ cattle are exposed to M. bovis.
"We've come a long way thanks to the hard work of farmers and the wider farming community and as we approach the end of another year, it's timely to encourage farmers to do the right thing."
Mr Andrew said incomplete NAIT records had resulted in farms being placed under movement controls, which may not have been the case if animals were properly accounted for under the NAIT system.
"Farmers should be aware that, where necessary, the M. bovis Eradication Programme will refer those with poor NAIT records to Ministry for Primary Industries (MPI)'s compliance team for investigation," Mr Andrew said.
MPI’s national manager of animal welfare and NAIT compliance, Gray Harrison, said while NAIT use had improved, more work was needed.
"When a person in charge of animals fails their NAIT obligations, they potentially put the whole sector at risk.
"There has been improvement with registering animals after they have been tagged, but I’m concerned there appears to be a belief that this obligation starts and finishes with the person who has animals born on farm.
"Every person who has NAIT animals on their property, that were not born there, must ensure they are tagged, registered, and have had their movement recorded into the NAIT system," said Mr Harrison.
"Not doing this could make you liable for an infringement or court prosecution if those animals remain unregistered, and, or, not recorded in a movement.
"We’ve had some serious cases before the court this year involving hundreds of unregistered animals, resulting in thousands of dollars in fines. The consequences might seem severe, but they’re a drop in the ocean compared to what it would cost to this country if this disease – M. bovis or something similar gained a foothold in New Zealand."
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Mr Harrison says anyone unsure about their NAIT obligations should reach out, as there is plenty of support and information available through our partners at OSPRI .