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Primary Industries Minister Nathan Guy has welcomed $1.2 million of funding for three projects to combat animal and horticultural disease from the Ministry for Primary Industries’ Sustainable Farming Fund.

“I’m pleased to see investment in these three projects to tackle bovine viral diarrhoea virus, facial eczema in dairy and beef cattle, and infected potato seed tubers. These are serious problems which can cause a lot of suffering and cost.

“The first project will investigate the prevalence of sub-clinical facial eczema and develop guidance on how to best monitor and manage the disease.

“This is a nasty disease. When cattle ingest the fungus that causes it, it damages their liver and causes chronic wasting and death. Badly damaged liver tissue never regenerates. There is no cure so prevention is the only way of protecting animals.

“This project will look at the production and welfare impacts of this disease and encourage farmers to address the problem before it gets to clinical level. The aim is to help farmers to know how and when to treat their cattle.

“This will ultimately lead to improved animal welfare, productivity and sustainability of pastoral farming across the country.”

The project will be led by the Facial Eczema Action group with representation from vets, farmers, researchers and DairyNZ. The project will receive $395,000 over three years and begin in July 2017.

The second project looks at Bovine viral diarrhoea virus (BVD).

“BVD is a serious and widespread disease in New Zealand with around 80 percent of New Zealand’s dairy and beef herds having been exposed to it. Infection can cause reproductive losses, an increase in general disease, reduced growth rates, and lowered milk production.

“Estimates put the annual losses for dairy farmers at over $100 million.

“This project will include identification of key transmission pathways, development of a business case for coordinated national BVD control and the building of a national model to track BVD status of individual animals and herds over time.”

This is the first time a BVD project has been funded by the Sustainable Farming Fund. $585,000 will be provided over three years and the project will be led by BVD Free New Zealand and will begin in July 2017.

“Another project involves $252,000 of funding to detect and target disease in potato seed tubers, which is an important challenge for our $500 million potato industry.

“Current disease control methods are time-consuming, expensive and involve significant use of agrichemicals. This project will target treatment to particular areas which require it, determine areas which shouldn’t be harvested and remove at-risk tubers during harvest.

“This should reduce the level of infection in seed tubers, increase yield and reduce the use of agrichemicals.”

The project will begin in July 2017 and run for three years.

Mr Guy made the announcement while opening the Central District Fieldays today at Feilding.

About the Sustainable Farming Fund

The Sustainable Farming Fund supports community-led projects that build productivity and resilience in the primary sector. Projects are led by farmers, growers and foresters who come together to tackle a shared problem or opportunity. Sustainable Farming Fund projects trial and apply new practices to deliver economic, environmental and social benefits in the primary sector and the community. Funding rounds are held annually and applicants are eligible for up to $200,000 per year for a maximum of three years. The next funding round is scheduled to open in August. This year, MPI has approved 20 new projects for funding, totalling $6.64 million. The approved projects will provide benefits across a range of primary sectors including apiary, aquaculture, arable, forestry, horticulture, dairy, fibre, meat and water. A full list of the successful projects will be published on the MPI website on 16 March 2017. For more information about the Sustainable Farming Fund visit mpi.govt.nz/sff

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