Scots welcome bluetongue discussions

Farmers in Scotland have welcomed a commitment from the country’s chief vet to sit down with stakeholders and discuss the compulsory bluetongue vaccination programme.

NFU Scotland has argued that since there have been no new cases of bluetongue in Britain this year, it is timely that the Scottish government and stakeholders discuss vaccination requirements for 2010, with a view to mapping out an exit strategy for the nation’s cattle and sheep farmers.

The Scottish government has confirmed that random blood testing will be carried out at markets and farms in the coming weeks, to assess compliance with the current compulsory rules to vaccinate livestock against the disease. Samples will be taken from cattle and sheep throughout September, where possible during routine visits to farms and markets.

NFU Scotland president Jim McLaren said: “Scotland has gone a long way to ensuring it stays disease-free and the random testing is likely to confirm a very high level of compliance with our compulsory vaccination campaign. In addition, our producers are exhibiting due care and attention when sourcing stock and continue to shun imports of stock from mainland Europe, because of the risk they can present.

“It would be a fitting reward for our efforts if, assuming we remain disease-free, the Scottish government and stakeholders are in a position to map out an exit strategy for the country later this autumn.”

The compulsory vaccination programme will be suspended on 25 October, as the UK moves into the vector-free period, but if the compulsory scheme is retained, all animals would once again require to be vaccinated in spring.