Union Supports Plans for BVD Eradication Scheme

NFU Scotland, following extensive consultation with its members has come out in support of plans for a national eradication scheme for Bovine Viral Diarrhoea (BVD).

In response to a Scottish Government consultation, the Union has said that BVD is of such serious financial and welfare significance to cattle producers that it merits a Scottish solution. It believes that eradication of BVD is realistic and potentially cost effective, but to achieve that would require a national scheme that is initially voluntary before being made compulsory.

The Union arrived at its position on BVD eradication following a wide engagement with members that included open meetings around the country, attended by more than 300 farmers, vets and industry stakeholders.   In addition, more than 150 written responses on BVD plans were received at head office.

NFU Scotland Vice-President Nigel Miller said:

“By responding positively to the Scottish Government proposals, I firmly believe that we are well on the way to helping all Scotland’s cattle producers tackle the threat posed by BVD, reap the economic benefits that eradication will deliver at farm level and reach the worthy goal of seeing Scotland achieve disease-free status.

“This is a genuine opportunity for Scotland to rid its cattle herds of the scourge of BVD and it is encouraging that when we discussed plans with the members, the vast majority of written and verbal responses were in favour of permanently eradicating BVD.   In addition, there was a significant degree of consensus on the means to achieve the desired outcome of Scotland being declared BVD-free at some point in the future.

“Our members are ready to play their part in eradicating BVD and believe that an initial voluntary phase should be introduced as soon as is practical.  In addition, we believe that any Scottish Government funding available to help with eradication should be used to support the costs involved in screening and testing for the disease.

“The Scottish Government’s plans suggested that funding could be directed towards the removal of any persistently infected animals (PIs) identified during the initial screening of herds.  While removal of PIs is key to disease eradication, our members agreed that the financial incentive could be better used to support screening and testing.  This approach will help those producers in Scotland who have already taken steps to tackle BVD and, at the same time, encourage producers who have yet to screen their animals to begin the process.

“In addition, by supporting new methods of BVD testing such as that involving tissue tags – whereby the piece of ear removed when an animal is tagged is tested for BVD - this will accelerate the identification of PIs and speed up the eradication process

“Based on previous experience, we believe that voluntary action on the farm will still need to be followed up with a compulsory phase if eradication is to be achieved and sustained. Such is the importance of beating BVD that our members accept that it would be reasonable to impose legislative requirements to screen beef breeding and dairy herds annually, make it illegal to sell known PI cattle, other than direct to slaughter, and to make results of testing reportable.

“It is also important that the worries of those Scottish farmers who, for commercial reasons, bring in cattle from other parts of the UK must be addressed. We acknowledge that this is a legitimate concern and requires careful consideration.  If breeding animals imported to Scotland were not from a recognised BVD-free herd, then we would suggest that those animals would, in the future, require isolation and testing.  Those importing store animals for finishing and slaughter may not require a similar level of screening but the BVD-free status of any neighbouring farmer would need to be considered.”


Contact Bob Carruth on 0131 472 4006


Date Published:

News Article No.: 111/10

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