NFUS Support for Bluetongue Controls

UK - NFU Scotland has expressed its support for the Scottish Government’s bluetongue controls. The Cabinet Secretary Richard Lochhead has today outlined additional checks on livestock coming in to Scotland from bluetongue restricted zones in the UK, including crucial controls to ensure animals are tested for the disease before they are imported in to Scotland. There has also been a very important clarification of EU testing rules.
calendar icon 13 February 2008
clock icon 3 minute read

NFUS would have preferred the Scottish Government to go even further and introduce mandatory post-movement tests, however it is pleased that there is at least a commitment to properly police pre-movement tests and carry out further tests if necessary.

Scottish Government officials have also clarified their latest understanding of EU rules on movements during the Vector Free Period (VFP); the period during which midge is deemed to be at its lowest. It had been previously understood that 60 days after the start of the VFP, animals could move out of bluetongue zones into disease-free areas without requiring a pre-movement test; an issue of huge concern to the Scottish industry. However, it has now been clarified that this relaxation is only applicable if the Member State has three years’ worth of data to substantiate the timing of the VFP. As the UK does not have this data, the requirement for a pre-movement test will remain in place – and the new Scottish Government controls will ensure that this test is carried out and, if it is not, a post-movement test will be conducted.

NFUS is reminding all farmers that the best way to keep Scotland disease-free is not to source stock from Bluetongue zones at all. The Union is also urging Government to keep the VFP under constant review. Over the last 48 hours, temperatures have reached 15 degrees, the temperature at which midges can successfully transmit virus. NFUS Vice President Nigel Miller said: “The prospect of bluetongue coming to Scotland is haunting the sheep sector at the moment. However, I take further comfort from these additional controls. I would have preferred a real belt and braces approach which included a compulsory post-movement test but at least we have a commitment that these movements will be better policed and testing enforced, with penalties for those that don’t comply.

“The clarification of the 60-day rule is extremely important. The understanding had been that as of next week - 60 days after the start of the Vector Free Period - animals could have come out of BT zones to Scotland without even requiring a post-movement test. In my view that would have been an intolerable risk. However, officials have now looked further into the legislative detail and it turns out, fortunately, that this is a relaxation that the UK can’t take advantage of.

“I expect to be in London later this week to discuss the UK’s vaccination strategy. The latest information from Intervet, the company producing the bluetongue vaccine, is that it will be ready in May, by which point the disease may well be active again. Hence it is critical to keep Scotland disease free. We do not want to be trying to control disease up here before the vaccine is even ready.

“This morning’s weather forecast predicted temperatures of 15 degrees in parts of England and Wales and I understand it reached that temperature in parts of Scotland yesterday. So we can’t assume that the vector free period will run on for long and it must be kept under constant review.”

Further Reading

       - You can visit our Bluetongue information page by clicking here.

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