Managing the Unimaginable Thursday, Mar 1, 2001
The Foot and Mouth disease devastation that is unfolding in the UK will be causing many NZ pastoral
farmers to pause and consider how they would handle such a crisis if it occurred in NZ.
The urgent destocking and destruction of livestock on known infected farms would be upsetting enough
but the continuing pressure as new disease locations are seemingly randomly found must be the ultimate
in the pressure of the unknown. And all that those who aren’t affected can do is sympathize
and wait for the crisis to pass.
Calls for an immediate improvement on border controls and demands for increased publicity on the risks
to the New Zealand's economy although an understandable reaction avoids facing insidiousness of
Farmers would be mistaken if they believe that a professional border service can in all circumstances
protect them from exotic diseases and insects. Control at the border is certainly the first and
best line of defence but the final line of defence is each individual farmer.
Varroa mite is an example of where all the systems and procedures and the most comprehensive hazard
manual failed. A bee farmer in the field identified the problem.
A false feeling of security provided by a professional service falters because the professionals cannot
act until a problem is identified.
In the UK F&M outbreak the delays in the context of the speed of spread of the disease showed on one
farm where the farmer noticed a problem and called his vet 24 hours later. A further 24 hours passed
before a ministry official visited the farm and a further 24 hours passed before the ministry
Farmers with their vets are the final defence in an exotic disease outbreak. The responsibility to know
our stock is always with us.
Good and disease free farming