28 July 1995

Scab SOS campaign under way

FARMERS WEEKLY is sending an SOS to the industry this week as part of a campaign to Stamp Out Scab.

Hundreds of letters have been sent to groups and individuals asking them to respond to continued calls to reintroduce sheep scab to the notifiable diseases list.

A petition was launched at the Royal Welsh Show, attracting massive support from farmers who fear rampant infection is threatening sheep health and welfare.

A recent MAFF survey confirmed that sheep scab is increasing (News, July 14). Investigations during the past two years have shown a continued rise in the number of infested flocks. Vets have reported that outbreaks of the disease have more than doubled from 254 last spring to 595 this year.

Calls for sheep scab to be made notifiable have come from all sections of the industry, including MPs, trading standards officers and farmers.

When MAFF revoked the sheep scab order in 1992 the decision to remove scab from the notifiable diseases list was universally condemned.

A report by the governments own livestock welfare advisers the Farm Animal Welfare Council recommended that the disease be made notifiable and that compulsory treatment be introduced coupled with movement restrictions.

MAFF is launching a second publicity campaign in a bid to encourage good management practice including the proper use of available treatments. But many believe notification, together with compulsory treatment of affected flocks will deal with the problem more effectively.

Junior farm minster Angela Browning has said the government is concerned at the increasing spread of sheep scab. She has asked officials to consider what other options may be available for dealing with the disease.

The coupon offers you the chance to make your view known. We will present the signatures to MAFF ministers later this year, and with your backing the campaign will deliver a clear signal to officials of the industrys view.

FUW president Bob Parry signed our petition at the show.