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Extend Bluetongue Zone Plea

05 October 2007

US - Five more cases of bluetongue disease were confirmed on farms in East Anglia yesterday bringing the total in the country's first outbreak to 24.

Bluetongue

The first case of the midge-borne disease has been detected in Essex but all others have been on Suffolk farms with a cluster in the Ipswich area.

Europe's vets had some better news for the country's hard-pressed livestock industry by allowing a partial resumption of the export trade for beef and lamb from Saturday, October 12.

Environment secretary Hilary Benn, who was in Brussels yesterday, will be meeting a small group of the region's leading farmers tonight at Newmarket.

Mr Benn added: “I hope that, as exports resume, this will ease the very real pressures farmers have been facing and we will continue to do all we can to enable exports to resume from the remaining parts of Britain as soon as possible.”

Mid-Norfolk farmer Roger Long, a member of the National Farmers' Union's regional livestock board, said a relaxation of rules for drivers of livestock vehicles and allowing “multiple pick-ups” of animals from today will also ease the burden on livestock producers.

East Anglian farmers, who are pressing to extend the bluetongue zone to the whole country, will present their case to Mr Benn. They argue that this would set the country free from unnecessary movement restrictions and would follow the example of Belgium, where there have been 2,195 cases and 1,891 in Holland, where national control strategies have been adopted.

Mid-Norfolk MP Keith Simpson wrote to Mr Benn that there was a strong consensus developing in the county and urging him to “follow the continental example and extend the regional protection zone into a national protection zone which would allow the necessary and vital movement of livestock”.

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Source: EDP 24


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