Note: This story first ran on Tuesday May 15
A Canterbury farmer wept today as he watched a truck load of his dairy cows taken away for slaughter as part of a cull sparked by the spread of the cow disease Mycoplasma bovis in parts of the country.
None of Frank Peters' cows has tested positive for the disease, but some had raised antibodies and his herd of 670 cows will be killed.
Mr Peters knew this was coming, but it still hurts him and he had to momentarily break off an interview with 1 NEWS to contain his emotions.
"Yeah it does. It doesn't matter what you say, nobody can say anything," he said.
"But it is what it is. As farmers we move on. It's still taking a bit. The scars won't go away no matter what. They'll never go away. The thing is when people come along and make decisions, the things that are beyond your control, it does hurt and it continues to hurt."
The cull has been ordered by the Ministry of Primary Industries and so far more than 22,000 cattle have been killed.
The total could reach up to 60,000.
"I still want these guys to stop. The thing is there's no need, it's just senseless killing," Mr Peters said.
He said Mycoplasma bovis has been in many other countries and has been controlled in them.
"Farmers need to turn around and actually stand up and stand up together, because at this moment in time this government needs to make that decision and stop this process," he said.
"Don't be scared of this disease. There is nothing to be scared about. If you are a bloody good farmer you won't have a problem with it," Mr Peters said.
The disease was yesterday confirmed at a farm in Waikato for the first time, taking the total to 39 properties, but the number is expected to rise as testing continues.
Maori Public Health boss Lance Norman told politicians today that 35 per cent of Maori still smoke, along with 25 per cent of Pasifika and 12-13 per cent of all other ethnicities.