4 May 2013

NZ to work with Australia on foot and mouth plan

11:54 am on 4 May 2013

New Zealand is to join forces with Australia to ensure both are prepared for any outbreak of foot and mouth disease.

Primary Industries Minister Nathan Guy says he has reached an agreement with his Australian counterpart to work more closely to combat the highly contagious viral disease.

The disease poses one of the single greatest threats to livestock industries and rural communities in both countries.

Mr Guy says New Zealand and Australia will create a joint plan to share intelligence on emerging risks as well as operational plans.

"Australia hasn't had foot and mouth for 130 years, New Zealand has never had foot and mouth.

"We realise if we ever did get it, it would cause big consequences for our economy so we need to continue to work very closely with Australia on our overall preparedness."

Federated Farmers biosecurity spokesperson William Rolleston says New Zealand has comprehensive plans in place for dealing with foot and mouth, but a recent Auditor-General's report says there are improvements to be made.

Dr Rolleston says the disease would cost the New Zealand economy $4 billion to $5 billion and it makes sense for both countries to work together on this and other biosecurity issues.