January 2, 2009

Voluntary ban of EU livestock controls bluetongue in Scotland


Scotland's voluntary ban on importing livestock from the EU to avoid bringing the bluetongue disease to Scottish farms appears to be in control.

Statistics from the Scottish government show that 83 animals imported into Scotland in October 2008 require post-movement testing for the bluetongue virus.

National Farmers' Union Scotland (NFUS) and fellow representatives of Scottish livestock producers called for Scotland's farmers to impose an immediate ban on imports of cattle from the EU on October 29, 2008.

Since then, the government has recorded no direct imports of susceptible livestock from the EU.

NFUS vice president Nigel Miller said that at the request of NFUS, the Scottish government will now publish livestock import statistics every quarter for each of the five Animal Health regions in Scotland.

Miller said these statistics show that the voluntary ban demanded by Scottish stakeholders is holding as importation of infected stock remains the biggest threat to Scotland.

He said EU vets have been looking at new rules that would help protect areas like Scotland where vaccination is proactive to protect their stock.

He hopes veterinary authorities deliver these measures in the New Year and help legally shut the door on importation until the virus is seen to be under control in the EU.

He added that only by securing an enforceable ban on imports can they be reassured that they have done everything to prevent the disease.

He urges all producers to continue progressing with the compulsory vaccination against strain 8 of the bluetongue virus (BTV8).

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