Farmers are awaiting a pioneering new vaccine from South Africa.

Hard-hit Balearic sheep farmers were last night counting the cost of the so-called blue tongue virus which has decimated their herds and destroyed demand for local lamb. But Welsh farmers, who have been stuck in the midst of the British farming recession for the last decade, are laughing all the way to the bank. Yesterday, SYP, the largest local supermarket chain was informing their clients that the only lamb that they had on sale was grass-grazed Welsh lamb, of top quality. Until recently this was just a niche market for Welsh farmers but they are now finding that the only lamb left in the market-place is from “the valleys” because naturally consumers are suspicious of Spanish lamb. Orders are expected to rise quite significantly because lamb is a major contributor to the Spanish diet. Meanwhile, in farming areas the wait continues for a pioneering vaccine from South Africa which is expected to arrive on the island next week. Officials at the Ministry for Agriculture have placed affected farmers in Minorca, Majorca and Ibiza in quarantine because there are major fears that the disease could spread. However, Balearic Minister for Agriculture Mateu Morro said that all affected lambs would be slaughtered and the vaccine would ensure that those unaffected lambs would remain free of disease. But despite his up-beat statement it will be a long time until the general public recovers their confidence in Balearic lamb. The European Community are offering compensation. For every lamb which is slaughtered farmers will be awarded 5'000 pesetas. Presently almost 125 sheep have been affected by the blue virus which comes from North Africa. This is one of the first times that there has been an outbreak of the disease in Europe. It is transmitted by mosquitos which live in marshland and swamps.