EU gives a boost to North East farmers, says MEP

An EU vote today (Thursday 7 April) has given farmers in the North East greater control over vaccinations against the deadly Bluetongue disease and will finally allow the UK to be granted Bluetongue-free status.

Stephen Hughes, Labour Euro-MP said: "I am delighted that the EU has brought in this new law, which has real benefits for farmers in the North East and the rest of the UK.

"It reassures farmers who are concerned by the deadly disease and the existing vaccination as the Bluetongue season approaches with the warmer weather. Farmers will now have a new and safer vaccine available and will be given greater powers over their own vaccination programmes."

The new law ushers in the use of a new Bluetongue vaccine for the first time, which takes advantage of developments in science since the previous rules came into force. The new vaccine will be an "inactivated" jab and will allay farmers' fears over the traditional "live" vaccines.

Mr. Hughes added: "Until now, farmers would lose the right to vaccinate their animals if the UK was declared entirely free from Bluetongue. But under the new law farmers are given the power to keep vaccinating for their own piece of mind, whilst profiting from easier exports."

The disease first reached the UK in 2007. However, as no new cases have been indentified in the last two years the country is now eligible to be declared free from the disease, which will allow the lifting of controversial export restrictions placed on our farmers.