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Union Support for Mandatory Element to BVD Plan but More Industry Information Needed

NFU Scotland members have given their support for mandatory herd screening for Bovine Viral Diarrhoea (BVD), believing it is necessary if plans to eradicate BVD in Scotland have the best opportunity to be successful.

The comments come in the Union’s response to the Scottish Government’s consultation on introducing mandatory annual screening as a necessary stage in the BVD eradication scheme.

However, the Union has asked that the introduction of any mandatory element be delayed until the end of the year – avoiding any confusion during the main autumn sale season – and that greater resources are directed towards informing all cattle keepers of the plans in the interim period.

NFU Scotland President, Nigel Miller said:

“BVD has huge welfare and financial implications for all herds in Scotland and the majority of Scotland’s cattle keepers are in favour of eradicating this costly disease.   In verbal and written discussions on BVD, it is clear to the Union that there is a significant degree of consensus on the means to achieve the desired outcome.

We believe that eradication, via identification and culling of animals persistently infected (PIs) with BVD is realistic and potentially cost effective, but only if the scheme is national, and has an element of compulsion following an initial voluntary phase.   Having agreed with the initial voluntary phase procedure, and having now consulted with members on the mandatory phase, we are in agreement with its introduction and the proposed protocols.

“That said, there are concerns that many producers remain confused about the disease, the scheme and the implications of both for their herds. Our experience from the consultation and awareness process is that this is improving, and that those producers who have attended meetings or discussed BVD with their vets are well informed. However, it is clear that many cattle producers are not yet up to speed on BVD proposals.

“There are also many cattle keepers who fear that, following the voluntary screening phase, they may face disruption and cost when subsequent mandatory restrictions may be enforced.

“Given those concerns, we believe it would be sensible to consider delaying the proposed mandatory movement restriction phase back from September 2011 to later in the year or next spring. This would avoid any new measures cutting across the main marketing season and avoiding any issues around the status of cattle offered for sale once screening becomes mandatory.

“Rescheduling, we believe, would also give officials time to collate and analyse the results of the screening phase, allowing a more considered and informative consultation on the next steps.

“Our members remain convinced that there will is a need for a compulsory phase if eradication is to be achieved and that it is reasonable to impose legislative requirements on herds to screen annually.  That should be introduced as soon as is practical, but with due consideration to minimising disruption to producers and markets.  Delaying its introduction until the winter would give people the opportunity to carry out screening at a time when most animals are housed.

“Where our members were unanimous was in the need to introduce legislation that would prevent any producer from selling cattle known to be persistently infected with BVD, other than direct to slaughter,

“In addition, we support that herd tests should be reported and that well-considered and proportionate movement restrictions on herds that have not been screened or have screened not-negative for the disease.

“The concerns of finishers, beef and dairy breeders who for commercial reasons ‘import’ cattle particularly from England and further afield must also be addressed and clarified.” 

Notes to Editors

  • A copy of NFU Scotland’s response to the Scottish Government consultation on mandatory annual screening of beef and dairy herds for BVD is available on request.

Ends

Contact Bob Carruth on 0131 472 4006

 

Date Published:

News Article No.: 70/11


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