DEFRA and the Welsh Assembly Government have announced that their remaining Bluetongue vaccine stocks will be discounted by 50 per cent, effective from today (May 7).

It is hoped that this discount will be passed on throughout the supply chain, which means that the end price of vaccine could be expected to fall from its current price of around 66-79p per ml plus VAT, to 33p-39p per ml plus VAT.

The remaining Merial vaccine, in 100ml bottles, is being reduced to encourage uptake and reduce taxpayer liability before it expires later in the year.

Chief Veterinary Officer Nigel Gibbens said: “This is an added incentive for those farmers who have not yet vaccinated their animals, or who are looking to give their stock a booster during the summer. With midges already active, and the Met Office predicting a warmer summer than last year, conditions for the spread of Bluetongue may be ideal. Livestock keepers should take this opportunity to buy their vaccine at a discounted price, before the Government stocks are no longer available.”

Welsh CVO Christianne Glossop said: “The price drop has been introduced in an attempt to ensure that those farmers in Wales who have not yet vaccinated their livestock do so urgently. Having experienced a relatively mild April and having been informed by meteorologists that there is a prospect of a warm summer ahead we can expect increased midge activity over the coming months.”

The Bluetongue Core Group, made up of industry representatives and veterinary professionals welcomed the discounted vaccine as a positive and necessary step for Government to recover some of its costs while helping to promote uptake of vaccine.

Due to the efforts of farmers who vaccinated last year, the UK is now in a situation without evidence of circulating disease, and a subsequently reduced appetite to vaccinate. The situation on the Continent is still uncertain therefore farmers need to recognise the ongoing risk to their livelihoods, and take the opportunity to vaccinate now, while discounted vaccine is available.

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