New Zealand has fewer than a hundred cases of bovine TB remaining thanks to a rigorous possum-culling programme funded mainly by farmers.
John Dalziell, a beef and sheep farmer, who chairs the New Zealand Animal Health Board, says the country continues to embrace the cull which is part funded by a levy of $11.50 per beef animal at slaughter and 1.1 cents for every kilogram of milk solids sold.
During a visit to the Royal Welsh Show, Mr Dalziell said he believed there is one stark point of difference to the situation in Wales. Badgers are a protected species while possum are regarded as pests. “We haven’t encountered any challenges; possums are seen as pests that eat the eggs of native birds,” he said.
Even with bovine TB on the point of eradication, farmers show no reluctance to funding the programme. But Mr Dalziell believes the initiative could hit a hurdle when the country eventually achieves eradication status. Funding will need to be in place for at least a further 30 years but a reduction of just 10% of funding could jeopardise the programme.
“After eradication there will need to be a minimum of 10 years of continuous control to eradicate TB in wild animals,” he said.
“Everyone has been pleased to contribute to this point and we hope farmers will see the need to continue funding the programme. If we stop now it will undo all the good work that has been done.”
Mr Dalziell farms near Wellington, a region where TB had once been endemic. There are now only four infected herds in that region.
“It has taken a lot of effort to get to this point but that effort has certainly paid off,” he said.
In additional to culling, there had been stringent cattle movement controls in areas where TB had been prevalent.