Email from Ruth Watkins Sat November 3 2007
What you can see below is that though DEFRA says it has not decided to make vaccination compulsory or voluntary, it makes no mention of the EU funding for a compulsory vaccination programme. Now it may be that when the tender results come back in 2 weeks and they make their decisions there may be some firmer guidance from the EU. However once DEFRA have ordered and set up their vaccine bank you can see that they intend to recoup the whole of the cost vaccine and administraton of the bank from the farmers.
The farmers will not only have to buy the vaccine and pay for veterinary administration or supervision but perhaps buy extra tags for the vaccinated animals and pay for pre-movement testing to comply with the DEFRA / EU rules. I think it is disgraceful that the whole cost should be passed to the farmers when the EU and DEFRA make the rules (DEFRA makes extra rules) and the EU has offered 100% the cost of the vaccine and 50% of the cost of vaccination (no mention of which is made by DEFRA) which will obviously entail a significant cost otherwise to the farmer without this support.
There is no mention of removal of restriction zones so pre-movement testing will become an additional expense for some, will this be PCR and ELISA? They could be charging £40 or £50 for both those tests per animal / specimen.
We are considering possible vaccination plans with representatives from the farming industry and scientific experts on Bluetongue so that we are fully prepared for when the vaccine is delivered. The issues we are discussing include whether to follow a voluntary or compulsory approach and whether a vaccination programme should follow a phased approach according to disease control priorities (such as certain high-risk areas, certain species, and so on).
Who will payThe initial costs to government will depend on negotiations with the vaccine manufacturers. However, they have indicated that producing vaccine for individual keepers would not initially be a commercially viable prospect. Ensuring a vaccine supply for next year will therefore depend on firm, bulk orders and a commitment on this scale and to this timescale could only be made by national authorities or the Commission. We have therefore decided to utilise our expertise and experience of purchasing such banks and doing so for Bluetongue will involve a significant administrative and up-front cost.
However, individual livestock keepers who vaccinate must purchase the vaccine from the bank and, in this way, the Government will seek to fully recover the costs involved in establishing the bank.
There may also be additional costs involved in the vaccination process, including veterinary administration or supervision of vaccination, identification and, potentially, pre-movement testing, all of which would be born by vaccinating livestock keepers. The extent of these costs will be ascertained as part of developing a vaccination plan with the industry and we will publish a paper detailing likely costs as soon as this information is available."
There isn't any mention of devolvement though I expect that will come soon enough.
A local farmer Elwyn came and cut my hedges and brambles this afternoon in those few places where I allow them to be cut (One would be unable to get down the drive after 2 years of no cutting). His reaction to bluetongue was no-one is telling anybody much about it but he knew there were 60 infected holdings.
He also said that how could he treat ill sheep when he did not know if they would ever get better or be any good when they did (clearly he couldn't afford flunixin, antibiotics and rehydration fluid for every sick animal certainly not if they were going to die or make a partial recovery only).
Of course when they died it would be a total loss of their value, and then to add insult to injury one would have to pay the National fallen stock company individually for each sheep to be taken away for incineration at £12.50 a sheep over 12 months, £10 lambs 2 - 12 months and £5 a lamb under 2 months. So he said if one didn't go bankrupt when a 100s of one's ewes died and you got nothing you would go bankrupt when you had to pay the fallen stock charges.
He said prices for sheep alive or dead were getting worse if anything. He would vaccinate his sheep even if he had to pay because he couldn't afford not to. But I think everybody is reducing their flocks, or going out of sheep, if they can.
Yours sincerely Ruth
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