Twelve key farming groups have joined forces to combat bluetongue as the vector free-period ends and the threat of more cases, grows.

The organisations involved, which represent livestock farmers, livestock markets, meat processing, dairy processing, and the veterinary profession, all fully support the joint industry/DEFRA vaccination plan for bluetongue.

They will unite under the banner – the Joint campaign Against Bluetongue (JAB) and, in a joint statement said, that they were committed to working together on the campaign to achieve the mass vaccination of bluetongue susceptible animals in England.

“We recognise that a voluntary approach to vaccination has raised some eyebrows in some quarters but we are convinced that a voluntary, industry compulsory, mass vaccination programme is the right approach.

“We believe that the EU’s bureaucratic rules for a compulsory vaccination programme requiring official supervision would have slowed down the process of vaccination, put individual farmers businesses at greater risk, and increased the likelihood that the virus would spread across the country before animals could be vaccinated,” the statement read.

Voluntary

Although the programme will be run on a voluntary basis, JAB is now embarking on a major campaign to urge all farmers with susceptible livestock to vaccinate their animals as soon as vaccine is available.

The campaign, which is supported by DEFRA and Animal Health will utilise national and regional media outlets as well as more direct contact through farmers meetings, livestock markets and contact with private veterinary surgeons.

The groups involved are: