15 August 2001
Welsh to consider virus jabs

By Robert Davies, Wales correspondent

EMERGENCY foot-and-mouth talks in Wales are set to consider the possibility of vaccinating thousands of sheep.

The Farmers Union of Wales claims that the question of using strategic vaccination to protect irreplaceable hefted flocks will top the agenda.

The meeting in Cardiff on Thursday (16 August) has been called by rural affairs minister Carwyn Jones. The FUW and NFU Cymru are due to attend.

Privately, FUW officials admit that some Brecon graziers who fear the virus could be endemic on common land with 100,000 head of sheep back the idea.

While the union continues to oppose vaccination, members wanted to be updated on Government thinking, it said.

Some FUW members believe testing is about to be extended to commons in presently clean areas.

However, Tony Edwards, Waless chief vet, told the union that even if he wanted to follow this course of action, he did not have the manpower.

FUW deputy chairman Glyn Powell said the meeting was needed to brief county chairman on progress, and why vaccination was not still an option.

During three-hour long talks with top DEFRA vets on Monday, members of the self styled National Foot and Mouth Group urged a change of culling policy.

Spokeswoman Janet Bayley said their case was given a very fair hearing.

Ms Bayley said she felt that the groundswell of opinion in favour of vaccination was now acknowledged at the highest level.

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