NFU Scotland has urged all parties to keep the current bird flu
outbreak in proportion. NFUS has made the plea following the confirmation
that the swan that died of avian flu in Fife had contracted the
H5N1 strain and following the imposition of further restrictions
along Scotland’s east coast.
The Union recognises that veterinary advice requires that further
movement restrictions are enforced. Whilst this is going to cause
serious difficulties for the poultry industry with over three million
poultry likely to be caught up in new restrictions, NFUS is stressing
that this must be seen in the wider context of protecting Scotland’s £110
million annual poultry trade.
NFUS is reminding everyone that this remains a single case in
a wild bird, with no guarantees that the disease will spread into
the farmed poultry population.
NFUS Deputy Chief Executive James Withers said:
“This is a serious issue for Scotland’s poultry producers,
but it remains an issue for the farming industry, not for the public
“Farmers are relying on expert advice and if it says we
need these restrictions, then that is what must be imposed. The
price of being too lax with this disease is too high to contemplate.
“The key element of the decision-making process on further
restrictions for the country’s poultry farms is veterinary
advice. We have to trust the disease experts and hope that their
advice provides the protection that our £110 million poultry
industry so desperately needs. We will be discussion with them
the next steps as the evening progresses.
“The wider restrictions will undoubtedly cause problems
for farm businesses and we’ll be working with the Executive
on an hourly basis to try and address these.
“However, whilst these new restrictions effectively shut
down a significant proportion of the industry and look draconian,
a sense of perspective remains important. We are still talking
about one wild bird, in one isolated case. That is not designed
to under-estimate the concern within the industry but to bring
perspective to the current debate. The lessons from Europe are
that the spread of disease from wild birds onto farms is rare,
with only few isolated examples.
“Poultry farmers are not going to have an easy night or
next few days. But whilst watching this disease creep closer to
them has been excruciating, it has allowed them to plan accordingly.
Crucially, the contingency work of the Scottish Executive and authorities
must now to come to fruition.”
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