NEW ZEALAND – A farmer spokesperson has described as short-sighted government plans to pull funds from a tuberculosis (Tb) eradication strategy in Waikato.
The region’s draft Annual Plan has outlined a cut in direct funding for its pest strategy, which in New Zealand is the possum.
Funding is spread 90 per cent from government funds and 10 per cent from regional councils.
“In Waikato this equates to $700,000 towards a seven million dollar project,” said Federated Farmers provincial president for Waikato James Houghton in a press release this week.
The possibility of less support coincides with a shift in focus in Tb eradication in other parts of the country, Mr Houghton explained.
Leading eradication groups TB Free New Zealand and OSPRI are expected to turn attention to other districts.
“In my mind this is very short sighted of the Council,” he said. “As soon as the project moves to focus on other parts of the country, effectively taking off our trainer wheels, the Council is looks to be wavering on their small contribution to keep Waikato TB free.”
“Whilst they could source the funds from ratepayers in other ways, rather than through our rates, it does not inspire a long-term vision for the community, that it is not being sourced from a sustainable source in an open manner.”
He urged rate payers to be savvy when asked to consider a 0.3 per cent rate increase.
“The $700,000 is likely to be fleeced from your back pocket whilst you gratefully pay your small increase in rates,” said Mr Houghton. “It could be through administration fees or any such thing, but I would be sceptical of any increase in price within the region after this Annual Plan is put through.”
He said cattle farming needs consistency and reliable funding from the council, to match the investment and work being done by the Government and industry stakeholders.
“It is only 10 per cent compared to the 90 per cent the other stakeholders are putting in. As a community we should start planning now to continue the great work that has revitalized some of our native bush and protect it for generations to come.”
Mr Houghton concluded that, with the right time and resources, Tb could be eradicated and money saved long term.
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