- Posted by: Joyce Watson MS
- Category: Feature
WALES’ Environment Minister has said it is “too early to speculate” about the financial implications of a virus that is sweeping farms in England.
The Scmallenberg virus, which causes lambs to be born dead or with serious deformities, has so far spread to farms in the south-east and west of England from mainland Europe. While it has not been detected on Welsh farms, retired clinical virologist Dr Ruth Watkins has warned it is ‘inevitable’ there will be cases in Wales.
Speaking in an urgent question session at the Assembly on Tuesday (28 February), Mid and West AM Joyce Watson questioned the Minister for Environment and Sustainable Development, John Griffiths, about the potential financial cost of the virus.
“What discussions have you had with officials and relevant authorities regarding the financial implications? I understand that there is currently no compensation for farmers whose animals suffer from SBV and that farmers may also not be insured against it,” Mrs Watson asked.
The Minister responded, saying:
“It is not a notifiable disease. We are encouraging voluntary reporting to private vets by farmers, and a great deal of information has been disseminated as far as that is concerned. It is therefore not appropriate to talk about financial issues or compensation. As I have said, we are in the very early stages in relation to this disease.
“There are no trade implications as yet. We will, obviously, continue to give consideration to the most appropriate way of responding to the virus as matters develop. It is far too early to speculate on the matters that the Member raises at this stage.”
Joyce Watson was the Labour Party spokesperson for Rural Affairs in the Assembly before the last election.