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http://www.defra.gov.uk/news/2004/040720c.htm

20 July 2004

SCHEME TO APPLY EU WIDE CONTROLS ON SCRAPIE-AFFECTED FARMS LAUNCHED

Defra and the Scottish Executive have launched a scheme to apply compulsory disease measures to farms where a case of scrapie is reported and confirmed - from today onwards.

These EU-wide measures are part of wider controls aimed at eradicating TSEs from national flocks and herds. They target action on farms known to be infected with scrapie in order to remove infection and to prevent its spread to other farms. They are only likely to affect a limited number of flocks and herds.

Under the "Compulsory Scrapie Flocks Scheme" farmers with confirmed scrapie cases on their farms will have their sheep flocks genotyped so that the more scrapie-susceptible sheep can be identified and removed. Alternatively there is the possibility of disposing of the whole flock. Goats on affected farms will be disposed of although there have been very few reported cases of scrapie in goats in recent years.

Compensation at standard rates will be paid for animals that have to be destroyed and that cannot go into the food chain. Alternatively farmers may have high value animals valued, at their own expense. Assistance will be given both with the genotyping and sourcing of replacement stock and towards the cost of purchasing replacement rams of the most resistant genotype.

The TSE (England) (Amendment) Regulations, and parallel regulations in Scotland, provide powers to enforce the EU measures. Farmers who report new cases of scrapie that are subsequently confirmed will be subject to the regulations and their farms will registered by the National Scrapie Plan Administration Centre (NSPAC) under the Compulsory Scrapie Flocks Scheme.

The Voluntary Scrapie Flocks Scheme, launched on 5 April 2004, will remain open to applications from sheep farmers who have had confirmed cases of scrapie in their flocks between July 1998 and yesterday. Any members of the Voluntary Scrapie Flocks Scheme with reported and confirmed cases in their flocks from today will be subject to the Compulsory Scheme.

Animal Heath and Welfare Minister Ben Bradshaw said

"The Compulsory Scrapie Flocks Scheme will provide assistance and support to farmers to rid their farms of scrapie and achieve a scrapie resistant flock. NSPAC will be able to provide advice and guidance on the new measures and how to comply with them.

In implementing these EU-wide measures we have done our best to provide flexibility where we can, whilst also taking the action necessary to eradicate the disease from affected farms."

Notes for editors

1. Scrapie is a fatal neurological disease of sheep and goats. It has been present in the national sheep flock for over 250 years but is not considered to be transmissible to humans. There is a theoretical risk that BSE could be present in sheep, masked by scrapie, although it has not been found naturally occurring in sheep.

2. In 2003 there were 231 confirmed reported cases of scrapie in England. 109 cases have been found in Great Britain through active surveillance at abattoirs and of fallen stock since spring 2002.

3. The EU measures are laid down in Commission Regulation 1915/2003 (Official Journal L283 31/10/2003).

4. Under the scheme, either the whole flock or herd has to be culled or only the most resistant rams -NSP Type 1 - and NSP Type 1 and 2 females can be retained on the farm and used for breeding. Sheep of other susceptible genotypes must then be culled before the next breeding season. Sheep found to carry at least one resistance conferring ARR allele can go for slaughter for human consumption. Other sheep will be removed and disposed of free of charge.

5. Only Type 1 animals (and Type 2 ewes in some cases) may be sold or used elsewhere for breeding from farms while the control measures are in place. There are also restrictions on what animals can be brought onto the farm while it is subject to measures.

6. Derogations to delay culling or to allow on animals not of specified or known genotypes are available in certain circumstances.

7. Compensation will be paid for animals slaughtered and disposed of under the scheme. The rate for adult animals will be 90 (30 for ewes in flocks with a derogation), and 50 for a lamb or kid. (Where a derogation is granted for a ram, the rate for the subsequent lamb crop is 25). Alternatively farmers may arrange valuation for high value animals by valuers nominated by the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors in England (the Institute of Appraisers and Auctioneers in Scotland) at their own expense.

8. Assistance of up to 500 may be given towards the cost of replacing a culled susceptible ram with an NSP Type 1 ram.

9. Press release 133/04 of 5 April 2004 announced the launch of the Voluntary Scrapie Flocks Scheme which is open to GB farmers with flocks that have had a confirmed case of scrapie between July 1998 and the dates that the TSE (England) (Amendment) Regulations (and parallel legislation in Wales and Scotland) come into force. Farmers not affected by these control measures still have until 31 March 2005 to apply for the voluntary scheme. Parallel legislation is expected to be introduced in Wales this autumn.

10. Extensive information on the NSP and scrapie is published on the internet at: www.defra.gov.uk/nsp. Further information about the compulsory scheme, and guidance on the legislation, are also available at this address.

11. A copy of the Regulations is available on the HMSO website www.legislation.hmso.gov.uk/si/si2004/20041518.htm.

12. A consultation document on strategic options for a longer term plan for the NSP is expected to be issued shortly.


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