October 28, 2008


EU faces bluetongue strain


Dutch authorities confirm emergent bluetongue strain. The Scottish Government is urging livestock keepers to be alert of the threat of bluetongue virus following confirmation of an emergent strain in the Netherlands.


Bluetongue is a viral infection of cattle and sheep transmitted by midges.


Last weekend, authorities confirmed the discovery of viral strain BTV6 on three farms in Holland. This strain is usually associated with Southern Africa and Central America.


The Holyrood government stressed that while the findings are of concern, there are no immediate implications for Scotland.


This new development means there are now three strains of bluetongue in Europe, with cases of BTV1 and BTV8 increasing daily.


While no new cases of BTV8 have been discovered in England this year, a number of imported animals guaranteed to be free of disease have subsequently tested positive.


Each strain of bluetongue requires a specific vaccine. Scotland is to commence a compulsory vaccination campaign against BTV8 on November 3, but the presence of two other strains on mainland Europe has led to calls from NFU (National Farmers' Union) Scotland for better border protection.


NFUS vice-president Nigel Miller said they want the Scottish government to conduct examinations on all options possible available to prevent the importation of animals from high-risk areas in Europe and into Scotland. The system to safeguard animals from Europe to be free from disease is breaking down causing threat from bluetongue to elevate rather than recede. All animals imported from Europe continue to be tested for all strains of bluetongue, but further course of actions needs to be taken.


Richard Lochhead, Cabinet Secretary for Rural Affairs, discussed the potential implications for the UK with Environment Minister Hilary Benn yesterday, Monday, 27 October 2008 in anticipation of today's meeting of the Standing Committee on the Food Chain and Animal Health to ensure that the UK seeks robust action.


United Dairy Farmers' auction of US$48 million litres of milk in Northern Ireland on Thursday saw prices average 18p per litre, down on the 25.1p achieved a month earlier.


Thursday's figure is down 14.36p from the same auction 12 months ago, where an average 32.39p was achieved.


According to quota trader and milk industry commentator Ian Potter, with production still romping on in most EU member states, farmers will have to understand less equals more and more equals less.


There is around 18 percent too much milk in Europe, which has to be sold onto the world market and if in the mainland, bubble prices start to track down into the early 20p, there might be a mass exodus. This is a crucial moment to cut production.

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