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Stackyard News Jan 07

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    Biosecurity on the Agenda for Agricultural Shows

Representatives of around 80 local agricultural shows and societies gathered in Edinburgh today to express their views on new proposed disease control measures. 


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The Scottish Executive is currently consulting on The Animal Gatherings (Scotland) Order, which will introduce a licensing system for agricultural shows and events.  To secure a licence, the organisers of an animal gathering will have to meet certain biosecurity requirements.  The definition of an animal gathering includes livestock markets, animal assembly centres as well as local agricultural shows, sheep dog trials and stock judging events.

NFUS is concerned that some of the proposals are disproportionate and organised today’s meeting to allow Executive officials to hear from local show organisers on the potential impact of the proposals.

NFUS President John Kinnaird said:

“Between June and September, thousands of farmers and members of the public attend local agricultural shows.  These events provide a crucial link between farmers, local communities and the general public.  Obviously, disease protection must be a top priority at these events, but we are concerned that the Executive’s current proposals for biosecurity licensing represent a step too far and will make the holding of some events impractical.

“Proposals include requiring land used for an animal gathering to be subject to a 27 day standstill before and after the event.  This contrasts with the current animal standstill requirement of 13 days and we don’t understand the reasons for the different requirements.   Other proposals which are very prescriptive include having to inform the Scottish Executive of any change in lay-out of an event and a requirement to appoint a biosecurity officer who will presumably have legal responsibilities.

“We appreciate that this is still an ongoing consultation and very much welcome the Executive’s willingness to sit down with the Show representatives today.  I have no doubt we can find a practical solution in all this which delivers on disease protection but, at the same time, avoids events being bound up in unnecessary paperwork and cost.  Given that the scope of events covered by this new law is hugely varied, it would make sense to have a flexible system of biosecurity controls.  That could involve, for example, biosecurity plans being drawn up by organisers together with local animal health officers.  That is preferable to a one-size-fits-all, prescriptive approach.”

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