2.1 Scottish Sheep Scab Initiative
Since 2004, the Scottish Government has been working with industry through the Scottish Sheep Scab Initiative ( SSSI), and in particular with the National Farmers Union Scotland ( NFUS) and Quality Meat Scotland ( QMS). It is understood that the SSSI has raised awareness of sheep scab among producers and that the successful promotion of targeted control methods has effectively reduced disease levels in some areas. Nevertheless, concerns remain that sheep scab is widespread in Scotland and that it is not being adequately addressed by the industry itself.2.2 Potential long-term solution to scab control
Development of an effective vaccine represents a potential long-term solution to scab control with potential to overcome concerns associated with resistance to chemical treatments and exposure to infection from neighbours or through trade. Research into vaccine development is the focus of a project at the Moredun Research Institute.
2.3 Potential short to medium term solution
2.3.1 Proposed introduction of new legislation
In the short to medium term, Ministers have approved work towards the introduction of new legislation that will require farmers to treat sheep within a compulsory treatment period. It is understood that the draft legislation will be put out to consultation prior to laying the legislation before the Scottish Parliament in August 2008.
2.3.2 Underlying industry support
Background information collected via farmer survey work commissioned by SAHWAG has shown a groundswell of opinion in favour of future co-ordination of scab control. The legislation and its implementation will draw on this underlying industry support.
2.3.3 Requirement for evidence base
Any control measures implemented under the legislation should be based on sound evidence, appropriate to on-farm situations, achievable and cost-effective on different farm types and in all areas of Scotland. In addition, the legislation and its implementation will need to take into account the changing situation with regard to available chemical controls and the acceptability of measures to both farmers and Local Authorities ( LAs). A project to provide an evidence base for new legislation and guidance for implementation of a compulsory treatment period for sheep scab was commissioned by the Rural and Environment Research and Analysis Directorate ( RERAD) of the Scottish Government in June 2007. The purpose of the project is to provide evidence to support the development of legislation and to provide the necessary guidance to ensure that it can be implemented efficiently and effectively.