New field staff recruited for Mycoplasma bovis eradication programme

The fight against Mycoplasma bovis is escalating with the recruiting of 50 more staff, the establishment of a new field HQ and the appointment of a science adviser.

The science adviser, Dr John Roche, has been tasked with researching new tools for the fight against Mycoplasma bovis.

Twenty-five new Incident Control Point managers entered the field yesterday after completing training this week.

These case managers are appointed to work one-on-one with affected farmers under movement controls, says , Agriculture Minister Damien O’Connor.

“They support farmers with information and advice on the practical aspects of the controls.”

A further 25 will undergo training in coming weeks, to boost capacity to help farmers affected by the disease.

The 50 new Incident Control Point staff are additional to the 250 at the Ministry for Primary Industries (MPI) already undertaking this work.

The ministry’s compensation team was recently increased from 22 to 30 and is expected to double in size as the response progresses.

The ministry has also opened a new Field HQ in Cambridge.

Dr Roche, charged with researching new tools for the fight against Mycoplasma bovis, has a PhD in ruminant nutrition from the National University of Ireland. Most recently he has worked as a principal scientist at DairyNZ and adjunct professor in animal science at Lincoln University.

“He will provide strategic science advice across MPI and his first task will be to head up a new Mycoplasma bovis Science Strategic Advisory Group,” says Mr O’Connor.

“There has been little international investment in science around this disease so the group will look into testing developments to detect Mycoplasma bovis in individual cows, grow understanding of the disease and identify opportunities to support the New Zealand eradication operation.”

His background in Ireland, where Mycoplasma bovis is widespread, ideally places Dr Roche to lead this work, Mr O’Connor says.

Source: Minister of Agriculture and Biosecurity

Author: Bob Edlin

Editor of AgScience Magazine and Editor of the AgScience Blog

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