Member Advisory

Mycoplasma bovis Update

December 21, 2018

 
To All Affected Members, their friends, relatives and neighbours

While there is an increasing degree of confidence that the Mycoplasma bovis response is going to be successful, Federated Farmers is acutely aware of the human cost of seeking to contain and eradicate M. bovis. We recognise that over 1,100 farmers have been directly affected by the response, whether as an Infected Property (IP), Restricted Place (RP), under movement control (a Notice of Direction or ‘NOD’) or active surveillance (on-farm testing).
 
We all (that’s industry and MPI) agree that things could have been handled better as we all learned how to manage the significant challenges of New Zealand’s largest biosecurity response in living memory.
 
Below are
  1. Important assurances from MPI on improvements made to the response programme
  2. Significant progress made with delivering prompt and equitable compensation
  3. Info on where to get assistance – answers to your questions
 

What has Federated Farmers been doing? - What is our role?

I appreciate that many have asked – what has Feds done? The majority of our work has been behind the scenes as that is often the best way to achieve results. A number of National and Provincial electeds (National Board members, Provincial Presidents, Provincial Industry Chairs to name a few) and Staff (policy and communications staff and Territory Managers) have been advocating on behalf of affected farmers, communicating useful and readable information to the farming community and advocating, both in writing and in meetings, to the Minister for Biosecurity and to the response partners (MPI, DairyNZ and Beef+Lamb NZ) for an improved response effort and for equitable and timely compensation.
 
The following is some of the work Feds has done to date:

  • Contacted M.bovis experts at the very beginning - set up an industry phone call with the Australian experts;
  • Gained a commitment that farmers would receive compensation for culled cattle at full market rates (as though they were not infected);
  • Ensured that Contract Milkers (as well as Herd Owning and Lower Order Sharemilkers) would receive compensation and that compensation for lost income would go straight to all these business partners;
  • Ensured that Government accepted the industry offer of 32% (share of response costs) when MPI was talking 40 to 50% contribution from industry;
  • Advocated strongly for equitable compensation including:
    -  Compensation for loss of grazing income when animals are unable to be brought onto properties that are under movement control,
    -  Compensation for loss of income for direct losses incurred by those under active surveillance (recognising that some will incur costs because of the inability to sell store stock) – this is a work in progress that we are continuing to push
  • Formally requested that the Minister initiate an independent review of the M. bovis and other biosecurity responses to ensure the lessons learned are not lost and all players (industry and government) are better prepared in the future
 

1. Important, recent assurances from MPI on improvements made to response

In recent months Federated Farmers identified a number of reoccurring concerns expressed by farmers, some of which required a change to MPI and the practices of its agent’s response policies and some that were as a result of a failure of an individual response agent. We ask you to continue to tell us if MPI’s assurances are not being applied.
 
Identified problem
Affected farmers notified by telephone late on Friday (e.g. when become a NOD, RP or IP) and a lack of information on who to call for support, leaving farmers to worry over the weekend.
 
MPI Response/Policy
Only critical notification will happen on a Friday. For example, where a previously unrestricted property becomes an RP. All other notifications will occur early during the next week. Rural Support Trust (RST) support will be offered at the first visit and a tool box is being created for when RST support is not what the farmer wants. The affected farmer will be asked who, if any, person/organisation they would like to be informed of their situation.
 
ASL (Agricultural Services Limited) is contact organisation for farmers under surveillance and farm’s ICP (Incident Control Point) manager contact point the contact point while under movement restrictions.
 
Identified problem
Communication of legal obligations and rights not carried out in a sensitive way. Some affected farmers have been made to feel like criminals or to blame (culpable) in some way. Federated Farmers wants to hear from any farmer who feels they have been treated in this way by anyone involved with the response -
 
MPI Response/Policy
Information packs are left with the farmer for reference. “Top Tips for Farmers” has been created to assist. Culpability statement should not come from response staff.
 
Identified problem
MPI/ AQ (AsureQuality) almost informed neighbours that a property was to become a RP before the affected farmer knew
 
MPI Response/Policy
This should not have occurred. Neighbour notification is done in consultation with the affected farmer. The farmer has 5 days to inform neighbours if they wish to do so themselves, they can opt for their ICP manager to make the calls. This is then followed up by ASL after 7 days to the neighbours to ensure this process has happened.
  
Identified problem
MPI/AsureQuality didn’t find out who owned the stock or who owned the farm
 
MPI Response/Policy
The National Control Centre ask, as part of the initial scope, for the name of the owner of the animals / the property and ask if there are any other properties associated with this farm
 
MPI or their agents (AQ/ASL) interaction is with the PICA (Person in Charge vs Person in Charge of Animals) on farm. MPI (or their agents) advise other parties when known. It is the expectation that the PICA will advise their business stakeholders of what is happening with the stock on the farm that is under investigation.
 
Identified problem
MPI/AsureQuality don’t have accurate information on neighbours. Federated Farmers knows AgriBase is not up to date and not used by everyone.
 
MPI Response/Policy
Other data sources are also used. e.g. NAIT, ICP Manager, Census etc info is used
 
Identified problem
Lack of a written plan for a number of situations, a lack of explanation for why the property is being tested and what the testing and management regime will look like and uncertainty over kill dates for IPs.
 
MPI Response/Policy
Refer to Flow charts
Recovery plans are created with ICP Manager and Acute Recovery team
ASL (Agricultural Services Limited) or ICP manager should provide information on why testing is being done.
Kill dates are booked with the meat processors through the ICP Manager. The Response Team are working hard to ensure kill space is not an issue so that culling is not delayed.
 
Identified problem - Stock Valuations
  • Concerned that farmers are not receiving (or being provided with) fair valuations for stock to be culled
  • Uncertainty over the quality (and pricing) of replacement stock and whether any top up is guaranteed if replacements more expensive.
 
MPI Response/Policy
Farmers now able to choose from a panel of stock valuers. Farmers can get a 2nd opinion, using their own valuer, at their own cost.
 
Farmers can submit a follow up compensation claim with supporting documentation within 12 months if replacement animals are more expensive than culled animals. This includes replacement A2 cows. Click here for more.
 
Identified problem
There does not appear to be standard check sheet for the depopulation process
 
MPI Response/Policy
Farmers are fully involved in creating their farm depopulation plan. This also includes the clean and disinfection (C&D) plan for the farm. A copy is provided to the farmer
 
Farm ICP Manager is their contact, and is present at load out to ensure that process is carried out correctly. If the farmer does not want to be, or cannot be present, when the cattle are loaded they can nominate someone to be there in their place
 
Federated Farmers recommends that the farmer or their nominated person ensures that all cattle tags are scanned before culled cattle are loaded. This is a requirement of the process and aid in speeding up the processing of compensation.
 
Identified problem
Testing information only provided verbally
 
MPI Response/Policy
Testing information should be provided in writing via email - from ASL for surveillance farms and from ICP manager for farms under movement controls.
 
Federated Farmers recommends that affected farmers write down verbal information provided by any response agent (ICP Manager/ASL/MPI) and if concerned about a verbal instruction or assurance to confirm their understanding to the person via email. We recommend that a filing system be set up to help manage the email traffic.
 

2. Significant progress made with delivering prompt and equitable compensation

This Mycoplasma bovis response has been the first significant test of the compensation provisions of the Biosecurity Act regarding an animal response and the first animal disease response under the GIA (Government Industry Agreement) framework.
 
Federated Farmers has taken an active role, recognising our limited resources, in the response from day one. A wide number of other organisations including, but not limited to, DairyNZ, Fonterra, DCANZ (Dairy Companies Association), Beef+Lamb NZ, MIA (Meat industry Association), the Veterinary Association Rural Women, the Stock and Station Agents Association and the Rural Support Trusts. The response is now being governed by a partnership of MPI, DairyNZ and Beef+Lamb NZ and funded by taxpayers (68%) and dairy farmers (30%) and beef farmers (2%). This partnership is run under the GIA (Government Industry Agreement) framework.
 
Federated Farmers continues to work closely with the response partners assisting where appropriate playing an important advocacy role on behalf of all affected farmers – be they dairy or beef farmers or grazers caught in the cross fire.
 
Compensation
The key principle for compensation as contained in the Biosecurity Act is that affected farmers, including sharemilkers, should not be any worse or better off because of the use of the Act powers during a biosecurity response. Of importance losses must be verifiable (clearly good quality information makes the process easier and quicker)
 
As compensation principles and processes have been established for the Mycoplasma bovis response it has been clear that the Act has some limitations Feds will be seeking changes to the Act when it is reviewed (a process starting next year).
 
While all those involved in the response will agree that providing compensation has been slow significant progress has been made by all to speed up the process including the development of standardised tools and increasing the number of people working in the compensation team. This has increased to over 45 and the average time to process a compensation claim is now about 20 working days.
 
As covered above the following principles are being applied:
  • Farmers will receive market value for culled cattle – receiving meat value from the meat processors and a top up from MPI to the pre agreed market value
  • If farmers have to pay more for the equivalent animal (common sense is being applied to the principle of “like for like”) MPI will pay the difference and pay the freight
  • MPI will pay for milk and meat production losses, Grazing losses (where properties under movement controls are unable to source cattle to graze pasture and greenfeed crops etc and pay for verifiable Bull servicing losses:
    -  A Milk production loss calculator has been developed and its publicly available
    -  Abeef production loss is being developed that will simplify the compensation process

3. Info on where to get assistance – answers to your questions

Further information available on
https://www.biosecurity.govt.nz/protection-and-response/mycoplasma-bovis/
https://www.dairynz.co.nz/animal/cow-health/mycopasma-bovis/
https://beeflambnz.com/mycoplasma-bovis
https://www.biosecurity.govt.nz/protection-and-response/mycoplasma-bovis/resources-for-mycoplasma-bovis/documents-guidance-and-fact-sheets/
https://www.biosecurity.govt.nz/protection-and-response/mycoplasma-bovis/advice-for-farmers-under-controls/compensation/
 
Reminder re help available
Farmers affected by or concerned with the Mycoplasma bovis response are encouraged to contact the National Control Centre Liaison Team on 04 894 5656 (DDI) or email MBovis2017_Liaison@mpi.govt.nz
(Available over the Christmas period except for Statutory Holidays)
Farmers wanting answers to questions re compensation should the DairyNZ/Beef+Lamb NZ Compensation Assistance Team (DBCAT) on 0800 322 281
Dairy - dbcat@dairynz.co.nz
Beef - dbcat@beeflambnz.com
Rural Support Trusts - Call 0800 78 72 54 (0800 RURAL HELP) Select “0” for Mycoplasma bovis questions, or select your region to chat about other matters.
 
If you would like more information contact Gavin Forrest, General Manager Policy and Advocacy Email: gforrest@fedfarm.org.nz or Call : 0800 327646