Bluetongue Losses In Wales Could Hit £27m

The losses to the Welsh agricultural industry as a result of the arrival of bluetongue virus could hit £27 million, according to research conducted by HCC-Meat Promotion Wales.

The losses to the Welsh agricultural industry as a result of the arrival of bluetongue virus could hit £27 million, according to research conducted by Hybu Cig Cymru-Meat Promotion Wales (HCC).

Even if the bluetongue virus does not reach Wales during 2008, the indirect losses for the Welsh industry are estimated to be £5.3 million as a result of the impact of movement restrictions.

If the virus was to reach Wales later in the season, after the usual peak period of spread, the research estimates that the direct and indirect losses could accumulate to around £8.3 million.

However, if the bluetongue virus arrives in Wales before the peak spread of the disease in the summer, the total losses to the Welsh agricultural industry could hit a staggering £27.9 million.

Rees Roberts, HCC chairman said: "With the Welsh agricultural economy heavily reliant on livestock production, Wales could be seriously affected by a Bluetongue outbreak, especially if this were to become established over time.

He added: "Decisive action needs to be taken immediately to stop the spread of the virus or we run the risk of the impact of the virus becoming greater leading to higher losses. It is very likely that the disease will reach Wales in 2008 and therefore it is vital that the industry is prepared for this by considering strategies for limiting the impact of the disease in advance of its arrival."

The research was conducted in order to gain an understanding of the likely timing of the arrival of Bluetongue disease in Wales and the subsequent impact on the Welsh livestock industry. The research looked in detail at the pattern of the virus in Europe and, although there are variables, modelled its analysis on this pattern.

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