Proposals for scab
By Shelley Wright
MAFFs proposed new rules to tighten the controls on sheep scab have received a resounding industry welcome.
The National Sheep Association and the Sheep Scab Action Group said the three new measures were excellent news. Farming unions have also welcomed the proposals. Details are contained in a consultation document and MAFF wants industry comments by Mar 1, 1996.
The proposals would give local authorities the power to force common land or open, unfenced land to be cleared of sheep if there was evidence of scab and where the graziers association concerned was unable to reach agreement on how to solve the problem.
The clearance would last a minimum of 16 days, after which any mites remaining on the land would no longer be infectious. Sheep could be returned to the land only when they had been treated.
MAFF also suggests making it a criminal offence to sell scab-infested sheep, other than direct to slaughter. This goes beyond the existing rules by covering all sales of sheep, not just those at markets.
The third proposal would make it illegal not to treat sheep with detectable scab within a reasonable time or after being ordered to do so by a local authority.
John Thorley, NSA chief executive, was particularly pleased that anyone selling scab-infested sheep could be prosecuted.
Scottish NFU livestock director Richard Henton welcomed the document and said he was confident proposed regulations for unfenced or open land referred only to common grazings and not to regular, hefted flocks on unfenced hills.
But there is widespread concern that MAFF still plans to amend the Animal Health Act 1981, to remove the obligation on farmers to notify the police of scab outbreaks. *