We store cookies on your device to make sure we give you the best experience on this website. I'm fine with this - Turn cookies off
Switch to an accessible version of this website which is easier to read. (requires cookies)

MP calls for urgent sheep virus wisdom as farmers face anxious lambing season

February 28, 2012 4:30 PM

TFSouth Lakes MP Tim Farron is calling for quick action to stop the spread of a virus which causes miscarriages in sheep, after 74 farms in the U.K were infected.

Schmallenberg virus has spread for the first time to the U.K from livestock imported from Europe and/or the migration of midges across the North Sea. The virus has heartbreaking consequences, causing still births and miscarriages in sheep. Infected farms can lose around 50% of their lambs causing real hardship. Scientists and officials are struggling to predict the situation as the virus has only recently been discovered, but further cases are expected as the lambing season continues and calving starts.

So far the Government has not implemented on farm testing, advising farmers to report any birth deformities to their vets but there are concerns that this will give an inaccurate picture of the scale of the problem. Tim is now pushing for on farm testing to take place to help farmers and he has also tabled a question to the Department of Environment, Food and Rural Affairs to press for farmers to be given clearer guidelines on the disease - how to spot it and how to prevent it.

Commenting, Tim said: "Lambing season should be a joyful time, but this awful disease means that its now a very anxious time for farmers. Its important that we move to on farm testing so that this virus can be identified and dealt with quickly. I am very concerned that the Government has not given clear guidelines to those farmers currently importing stock from affected areas. We shouldn't leave farmers adrift during this uncertain time. We don't know how big a problem this new disease is going to be, so we should not overreact, but we can be proactive.

"There's nothing to be gained by clamping down unnecessarily on UK animal movements as there's a lot to lose by being over restrictive. What's important is that our farmers and vets are given the support they need through on farm testing and sensible advice. It's simple to do and I am urging the Government to do it."