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Stackyard News Feb 08

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Scary Blue Tongue Outlook for Welsh Sheep Farmers

Convincing politicians of the desperately urgent need to get sufficient supplies of Blue Tongue vaccine into Wales is the top priority for new NSA Cymru Wales Chair, Margaret Dalton. Margaret, who farms near Lampeter, says the situation is extremely ‘scary’.



She claims that the disease is spreading at an alarming rate in Northern Europe and during a time when low midge activity should mean it is dormant. The extreme seriousness of the threat facing Welsh sheep producers was a point she stressed to the Minister for Rural Affairs, Elin Jones, recently and will be repeatedly bringing to the attention of the Welsh Assembly Government.

"Blue Tongue is the really big issue", she says. "Getting enough vaccine into Wales, and quickly enough, is the top priority. It’s really scary the way it’s coming across Europe.

"I’ve had figures showing that in January alone there were 107 new cases in Northern France, 362 were notified in Germany between 28 December and 11 January and the first case occurred in Spain on January 10. We need the vaccine and we need it now."

Margaret, who is busily lambing 450 Lleyn and Lleyn Cross ewes at her 320 acre farm, Gelligarneddau, Llangybi, also has two marketing issues to address. She wants ‘Smokies’ legalised and says that the sale of sheepmeat with the skin on should be established as a niche market for Welsh farmers, instead of being forced underground again. And she is pressing for wool to be processed into insulation material here in Wales, as it is in Ireland.

Awarded NFU Woman Farmer of the year in 2000 and the OBE in 2001, Margaret Dalton also represents many other organisations and keeps 80 suckler cows.

The new Vice Chairman is John Lloyd who farms a hill farm at Cynghordy between Builth Wells and Llandovery. He has farmed there for the past 30 years and keeps 250 ewes.

John was recently chosen to take part in the HCC EID trials along with other farms in Wales. He is the Wales officer for the British Trust for Ornithology.

NSA Cymru/Wales Development Officer, Helen Davies, said the AGM was followed by a talk and presentation on Bluetongue, given by Chief ExecutivePeter Morris. The debate centred on how the vaccination programme will work and how we can best stay ahead of the disease as the season goes on.

The meeting with Elin Jones Minster for Rural Affairs in Wales was held at Anthony Mears farm near Brecon. Also present were Margaret Dalton, Huw Jones, Painscastle.

"We covered many issues with the Minster but highlighted the struggle young farmers have to start or even stay in the industry", said Helen

"The Minister is looking at a New Entrants Scheme and a consultation will be produced later on in the year. We have had a consultation to respond to on the Single Farm Payment with regard to Wales staying on historic payments or going to a flat rate system, which will eventually happen in time to come, the concerns around this were also discussed with the Minister".

link Agneau Presto - To The Rescue
link Beef and Sheep Supply to Tighten
link Lower Supplies Likely for Sheepmeat in 2008

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