The National Farmers Union has ruled out legislation to avoid any further imports of livestock which could be infected with bluetongue.

Instead, it is urging all farmers to take a responsible attitude by voluntarily avoiding importing animals from bluetongue-affected areas.

NFU dairy board chairman Gwyn Jones said: “I don’t think anybody should take the risk at this stage of putting in jeopardy the excellent work that’s been achieved with the vaccination programme.

“But I don’t want to recommend any further regulation – it is a legal trade and it would make it too inflexible.

Legislation would be particularly unpalatable, Mr Jones explained, in view of the current efforts being made to persuade the Dutch to lift its voluntary ban on calf imports from the UK following the discovery of TB-infected calves earlier this year.

“We don’t want Brussels to legislate against calf exports because we’re trying to work to find solutions for the calf export problem.

“We need trade but we need to be cautious. That’s what the Dutch are doing. I’d like to see our farmers being equally careful.

“This is not a big problem. It’s one we can cope with voluntarily within the industry.”

With a huge amount of bluetongue in northern Europe, Mr Jones said he was surprised farmers were considering importing animals.

“It’s incredible people imported those rams from that area in France because looking at the figures the number of cases in France have gone up 3,000 in five days.”