As farmers wait to hear today's decision on whether the government will attempt to eradicate the cow disease Mycoplasma bovis or instead contain it, the Minister of Agriculture and Biosecurity said eradication has been the option focused on by the government.
Later today the government will announce their decision on the national plan for the M. bovis outbreak which has so far affected 38 farms. It will be either long-term management or phased eradication.
The disease, which causes serious health issues for cows but no issues for humans, was first discovered on an Oamaru farm last year and is present in most other countries.
No country has ever attempted to eradicate M. bovis.
Minister Damien O'Connor told Mediaworks today that if eradication of the disease is possible, then it could "reduce the cost of farming and improve the way we farm".
It is estimated that it would take 10 years to eradicate, and be a bill of $1 billion to New Zealand's economy, Mediaworks reported.
More than 22,000 cattle have now been culled, the majority having no symptoms of M. bovis. Mr O'Connor said that number could go to 60,000, possibly more.
Mycoplasma bovis can cause untreatable mastitis in cows, severe pneumonia for 30 per cent of calves, swollen joints and severe arthritis. It does not infect humans, but can be spread through close contact between cattle or on contaminated equipment.