Welsh farmers ‘ready to vaccinate’ against bluetongue

The majority of Welsh farmers are ready to vaccinate their flocks against bluetongue, according to Farmers Union of Wales leaders.

Alun Edwards who farms at Rhydymain in Snowdonia was speaking following local farmers’ meetings with Welsh Assembly Government Chief Vet Christianne Glossop.

Mr Edwards, president of the FUW Meirionydd branch, said the issue was a “no brainer” for Welsh farmers.

Complacency and scare stories had deterred farmers from vaccinating last year, but they now realised that the industry had to protect itself.

“I am one of the few who vaccinated last year”, he said.

“It cost me £350 to vaccinate 650 ewes and when I scanned the ewes yesterday there was the same result as any other year, even though I had vaccinated both the ewes and rams.

“I felt it was obvious [to vaccinate],” he said. “There is no compensation and this is something we have to deal with as an industry.

“And I think that most farmers have come round to the fact that as good neighbours they have to vaccinate.

“Christianne Glossop put the message to us quite clearly and no one challenged her or expressed any doubts. TB is an example of inaction on the part of the Government and we don’t want the same thing to happen with bluetongue.”

Mr Edwards added that farmers were deterred from vaccinating last year because of poor State Veterinary Service advice and organisation. However they realised that they should not rely on farmers in England to protect them.

FUW Vice President Brian Walters said he felt farmers were now ready to vaccinate and added: “It’s an insurance policy.”