JANUARY 2008: Livestock industry organisations are coming together to organise andpromote two meetings in the South West where Bluetongue will be underthe spotlight.

Both meetings will be held on January 16th, one in Exeter Livestock market and the other at the new livestock centre near Bridgwater. These are the first two meetings in 2008 that will be the start of a whole series to be held throughout the country.The meetings will give many farmers their first chance to hear top speakers talk about the disease, the effects it has had on other livestock industries, the threat it poses to the UK livestock industry and the critical role it is envisaged that vaccination will play in the control and hopefully eradication of this devastating virus. Bluetongue has swept across mainland Europe over the past 18 months and has wreaked havoc on the sheep and cattle farms it has infected. The number of infected farms runs into tens of thousands with the main problems being in the heavily populated livestock areas in France, Germany and the Netherlands. The disease reached GB last autumn and there is every reason to believe that the midges carrying the virus will over winter in the UK and spread in the coming summer throughout the industry in a similar way to what happened in Europe.NSA Chief Executive Peter Morris said “All industry organisations involved in these meetings would keenly encourage their members to attend on January 16th in either Exeter livestock market or the new market centre at Sedgemoor if at all possible. The threat posed by bluetongue to the UK livestock industry is very real and must be countered. With Defra having placed an order for vaccine we do, as an industry, have a window of opportunity to beat this virus before it becomes established in GB. Everyone who keeps sheep, cattle and other livestock which are susceptible to bluetongue, has a duty to their animals to learn about this virus and what they can do to deal with it. These meetings give everyone an opportunity to learn more about the problem, the restrictions that currently exist to limit the spread of the disease and how to ensure the chances of it affecting their animals are minimised.”Anyone wishing to attend either meeting should notify NSA in advance on01684 892 661 or by email to enquiries@nationalsheep.org.ukThe organisations involved in the South West bluetongue meetings are National Sheep Association, Livestock Auctioneers Association, National Farmers Union, National Beef Association. The meetings are supported by Farmers Weekly and Intervet.

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