Number of TB infected herd numbers at all-time record low

Date 2015-09-09

The number of bovine tuberculosis (TB) infected herds has dropped below 40 for the first time in the history of New Zealand’s TBfree programme delivered by OSPRI. According to this week’s figures, an all-time low of 36 herds were infected with bovine TB (34 cattle and 2 deer herds).

OSPRI Chief Executive, Michelle Edge, said ‘Reaching this milestone is a credit to farmers and the industry and Government organisations that are shareholders and investors in the TBfree programme and is a big step towards New Zealand becoming TB-free.’

Farmers, industry and Government partners working hand-in-hand with OSPRI have collaboratively made the programme one of the world's leading TB control schemes.

Ms Edge said, ‘While this is a significant milestone, we know our focus on managing numbers of infected herds during the season where finishing stock heading to the processing works needs to remain vigilant.’
It’s important to remember that the number of infected herds traditionally increases over the coming four to six months as the new season’s on-farm TB testing programme ramps up and farmers begin to send finished stock to meat processing premises.

An independent review of the TBfree programme has recently been completed. This process included scientific modelling, a review of operational outcomes and a full public consultation process facilitated by the Plan Governance Group comprising industry shareholders and independent chair, Chris Kelly. A final proposal will then be presented to the Minister of Primary Industries for review and approval at the end of September. It will be OSPRI’s role as the appointed management agency to implement the outcomes of the review and to continue working with partners, wider industry and the community towards delivering freedom from TB in livestock and wildlife.

Currently the main aim of the TB programme is to eradicate TB from possums and other wildlife across 2.5 million hectares of New Zealand’s at-risk areas by 2026. The review of the national TB Plan found that OSPRI’s TBfree programme is well ahead of its targets with more than 1.2 million hectares already eradicated. The programme’s ‘proof of concept’ areas have demonstrated that the disease can successfully be eradicated.

Ms Edge said, ’There’s still a lot of work to be done but we’re excited about the direction that the Plan review is moving with the goal of achieving eradication more quickly and at a lower cost. This is good news for industry and provides further proof of New Zealand’s animal health status for international trading partners.’

Consultation on the review closed on 31 July after a large number of submissions and significant feedback from workshops around the country. Further details of the review and a wide range of supporting information, including an independent scientific review, can be found at tbplanreview.co.nz.

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