New Zealand authorities confirmed plans on Monday to slaughter roughly 150,000 cows in attempt to eliminate a strain of disease-causing bacteria which threatens the nation's economy. Many cows will be be used for beef, however many will end up dumped into landfills.
Found in Europe and the US, the bacteria can cause cows to develop mastitis, pneumonia, arthritis and other diseases.
The disease causes udder infections, pneumonia and arthritis, but does not affect milk and meat for human consumption.
Jacinda Ardern, the Prime Minister of New Zealand, said in a statement, "This is a tough call - no one ever wants to see mass culls".
"This is a tough time, and the pain and anguish they're going to go through is really ugly", she said of the affected farmers.
Mycoplasma Bovis has been found on about 40 farms so far but the government believes 192 properties will eventually be involved in the cull. The dairy herd of the country reportedly has around 6.6 million cows. The cost of killing the cows is estimated at 886 million New Zealand dollars.
"Newly appointed science adviser Dr John Roche has been tasked with researching new tools for the fight against Mycoplasma bovis".
After Mycoplasma bovis was first discovered in New Zealand last July, the government and dairy industry had to act. Some experts fear the decision will come at a huge cost.
Katie Milne, the national president of the advocacy group Federated Farmers, said it was important to try to get rid of Mycoplasma bovis while there was still a chance. "But the alternative is to risk the spread of the disease across our national herd".
According to reports, the officials in New Zealand have the right to kill the cows and enter any farm if they doubt that the farm might be affected. "This is a necessary, unfortunate part of not having a test that clearly identifies the individual animals yet".
An investigation launched by the country's Ministry of Primary Industries to determine how the bacteria wound up in the country is still ongoing.