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Enhancing animal health and welfare
The way in which Scotland tackles animal disease outbreaks is being reviewed to ensure the country maintains its position as a quality meat producer at home and abroad.
As part of a rolling process of assessment, the Scottish Government has commissioned a review of how information on disease spread is gathered and monitored.
In addition the Scottish Government today published its Exotic Animal Disease Contingency Framework Plan, consolidating previous plans for avian influenza and FMD.
It has also separately published a template to help farmers produce site specific contingency plans for exotic animal diseases for pig and poultry businesses with associated advice to ensure the industry is fully prepared should an outbreak of disease occur.
Cabinet Secretary for Rural Affairs and the Environment Richard Lochhead said:
"Scotland's excellent reputation as a top quality producer boosts sales and profits and is due in no small part to the health of our livestock.
"We have a good track record in animal disease surveillance and prevention - as our success in keeping Scotland bluetongue free demonstrates.
"But we cannot rest on our laurels. Our farmers and rural communities were badly affected by Foot and Mouth Disease in 2001 and by the 2007 outbreak in the south of England which had consequences for the Scottish sector.
"It is imperative that we continue to examine our processes and make sure that no stone is left unturned in ensuring that we are as prepared as possible when it comes to maintaining our reputation for quality livestock production."
The way Scotland gathers and monitors information on the spread of animal diseases is being reviewed to ensure swift action in the event of an infectious outbreak. It will be carried out by a panel chaired by John Kinnaird, former President of NFUScotland, and assisted by David Mitchell, Chairman of the Scottish Agricultural Organisation Society Ltd (SAOS). Its membership will be formed from expert staff from the Scottish Agricultural College, the Moredun Institute and the Scottish Government. Organisations and individuals with an interest in animal disease surveillance will be invited to provide information and comments during the review process. A report is expected to be delivered to Ministers by late 2010.
The Scottish Government has updated and consolidated its contingency plans for Exotic Animal Disease into one generic Contingency Framework Plan for exotic animal diseases. Key diseases that pose a threat to Scotland's economic wellbeing are covered by specific annexes. These are: African Swine Fever, Avian Influenza, Classical Swine Fever, Foot and Mouth Disease, Newcastle Disease and Swine Vesicular Disease.
The Contingency Plan for the Outbreak of a Notifiable Disease is a template which poultry and pig farmers can use to ensure they are prepared to tackle any potential outbreak. The guidance has been produced by Scotland's Environmental and Rural Services and will help farmers limit potential harm to human and animal health, protect the environment and improve biosecurity. This has been produced by SEARS (Scotland's Environmental and Rural Services).
SEARS is a partnership comprising nine bodies which deal directly with Scotland's land managers: Animal Health, Cairngorms National Park Authority, Crofters' Commission, Deer Commission Scotland, Forestry Commission Scotland, Loch Lomond and Trossachs National Park Authority, Scottish Government Rural Payments and Inspections Directorate, Scottish Natural Heritage and the Scottish Environment Protection Agency.