MARCH 18, 2008: Defra’s vaccination strategy for bluetongue has been backed by 12 key farming groups which have joined forces to combat the disease.

The groups have got together as the bluetongue vector free-period ends and the threat of more cases grows.The organisations represent livestock farmers, livestock markets, meat processing, dairy processing, and the veterinary profession.Calling themselves the Joint campaign Against Bluetongue (JAB), they said they were committed to working together on the campaign to achieve the mass vaccination of bluetongue susceptible animals in England.”We recognise that a voluntary approach to vaccination has raised some eyebrows in some quarters, but we are convinced that a voluntary, industry compulsory, mass vaccination programme is the right approach,” said the group.”We believe that the EU’s bureaucratic rules for a compulsory vaccination programme requiring official supervision would have slowed down the process of vaccination, put individual farmers businesses at greater risk, and increased the likelihood that the virus would spread across the country before animals could be vaccinated.”Although the programme will be run on a voluntary basis, JAB is now embarking on a major campaign to urge all farmers with susceptible livestock to vaccinate their animals as soon as vaccine is available.The campaign, supported by DEFRA and Animal Health, will use national and regional media outlets as well as more direct contact through farmers meetings, livestock markets and contact with private veterinary surgeons.The groups involved are:    * NFU    * National Sheep Association    * National Beef Association    * Royal Association of British Dairy Farmers    * British Veterinary Association    * Country Land and Business Association    * Tenant Farmers Association    * Livestock Auctioneers Association    * British Meat Processors Association    * Association of Independent Meat Suppliers    * Dairy UK    * British Cattle Veterinary Association    * Sheep Veterinary Society

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