MSP calls for vigilance over disease threat

DUMFRIES and Galloway MSP Jim Hume has called for the Scottish Government to act after Schmallenberg virus (SBV) was detected close to the Scottish border.

The discovery of the virus – which can lead to still-births and abortions in pregnant cattle - amongst livestock in North Yorkshire and Northumberland has led to concerns over the welfare of herds and flocks in South Scotland.

Mr Hume said: “This is the last thing farmers need. The news that the SBV virus has reached Northumberland will rightly be of concern to farmers in Dumfries and Galloway.

“If Schmallenberg takes hold in a herd or flock it can be distressing for a farmer and devastating financially. Now is not the time to get complacent and I call upon the Scottish Government to do all it can to protect farmers in South Scotland.

“Last month, the Cabinet Secretary said that if the disease was detected moving toward Scotland then the Government would carry out tests on samples taken from livestock during the annual British sheep and goat survey. It’s time he made good on his promise.

“If SBV is in Scotland then we need to detect it quickly and nip it in the bud before it spreads across Scotland like it has in England and Wales.”

South of Scotland MSP and Scottish Labour’s Shadow Environment Spokesman, Claudia Beamish, said: “This will be a very anxious time for local farmers. They are already finding it hard enough and the very last thing they need is an outbreak of this virus. The Scottish Government must do all it can to help farmers in southern Scotland so we can keep this virus out of our livestock.”

Dumfries and Galloway MP Russell Brown added: “The Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs in England needs to be working closely with the Scottish Government so we have a joint strategy to contain this outbreak. Our farms are on high alert and we are hopeful it won’t spread.”