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Agriculture: Bluetongue

Volume 707: debated on Thursday 12 February 2009

Question

Asked by

To ask Her Majesty's Government in the light of the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs not underwriting the costs of the production of the bluetongue vaccine BTv8 in 2009, whether there are sufficient stocks of the vaccine to cater for anticipated demand; and, if not, what mechanism they have put in place to underwrite any necessary production. [HL1035]

Given the existing surplus of vaccine, Defra will not be underwriting the purchase of additional vaccine for livestock keepers in 2009; it will be for livestock keepers themselves to procure sufficient vaccine for their stock. This approach to vaccine supply, developed with the core group of industry stakeholders, has been adopted for two reasons:

1. Around 12 million doses of vaccine remain in the supply chain from the 28 million bought for England in 2008. Defra is making this vaccine available to livestock keepers for use in 2009, and will go a long way to supplying likely demand in 2009.

2. BTV-8 vaccine is expected to be readily available from three manufacturers who are supplying vaccine direct to the market. This was not the case earlier in the year when Defra had to stimulate supply by placing a firm order. Defra's actions have now stimulated the market to the degree that continued intervention by Defra is not necessary to ensure supply of additional vaccine, which can be delivered through the open market.

However, Defra will monitor uptake regularly in 2009 and reserves the right to intervene in the event of supply problems.