France should be no go zone, says NFUS
NFU Scotland (NFUS) has urged all producers to avoid sourcing livestock from France or run the risk of bringing bluetongue into Scotland's disease-free area.
The French vaccination policy has failed to control bluetongue and the country is now struggling to contain two different strains of the disease. This summer, France has recorded more than 8,000 new cases of BTV8 (the same strain present in the UK) and almost 200 cases of BTV1.
Under EU rules, animals vaccinated under the French voluntary vaccination programme can be legitimately imported into Scotland, but the NFUS insists that "given the huge upsurge of disease in France, Scottish producers should make France a No Go Area".
NFUS vice-president Nigel Miller is attending an EU Sheep Industry conference being held in Limoges, France today (Thursday, 4 September) to gain first-hand evidence of the disease spread in the country.
Speaking ahead of the visit, he said: "We have been contacted by a number of producers looking to bring stock in from France this summer. While this may be legitimate under EU rules, the risks posed to Scotland's disease-free status far outweigh any benefit to be had.
"We would urge producers to make France a 'No Go Area' and only consider importation once the country and the rest of Europe have demonstrated that the disease is under control."
Miller added that the recent import of French rams and German cattle carrying the disease should serve as a "wake-up call" to any farmers considering bringing in stock from the EU.