The Royal Association of British Dairy Farmers has appealed to Government for an official ban on live imports of all species from every Bluetongue restricted zone globally before the vector-free period ceases next month in order to protect the UK’s animal health status and save farmers from further vaccination costs.
“The so called voluntary import ban agreed by British farmers is quite simply not working. Livestock are continuing to be imported from Bluetongue restricted zones by a small minority of greedy farmers who are putting the health and welfare of the country’s cattle and sheep at risk,” commented RABDF chairman, Lyndon Edwards.
“Consequently, we’ve agreed we need to put some teeth in to the issue and have written to Defra Minister of Farming and the Environment, Jane Kennedy calling for Government to abolish our free trade policy within Europe, it is essential we introduce a ban before the vector period commences on live cattle and sheep imports from all Bluetongue restricted zones throughout the EU and beyond, regardless of the virus serotype.
“We’ve said it before and we’ll say it again, live imports are simply quite unnecessary, therefore why play Russian roulette with British cattle and sheep? We are sick and tired of being let down by that minority who are potentially undoing the good work led by the conscientious majority. For those farmers seeking quality genetics, they can import either semen or embryos; for the remainder, then a quick fix approach may seem easy, however when the repercussions are considered, it is totally nonsensical and we’re merely short changing ourselves.”
He adds: “If BTV1 or any other Bluetongue serotype were to arrive undetected for any period of time in the UK this coming season, then not only will herds be shut down, but we will also be faced with another massive vaccination programme and accompanying expenditure, at a time when we are on the verge of introducing an animal health and welfare strategy featuring increased farmer costs and responsibility.”
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