Many farmers stand to lose millions of pesetas.

The European Community is expected to place a two year ban on the export of Balearic sheep as a result of the Blue Tongue disease which has decimated local herds. Hundreds of sheep have so far died of the disease which is transmitted by mosquitoes. Local farmers are awaiting the arrival of a pioneering vaccine from South Africa. It is hoped that once injected, sheep not affected by the virus will remain healthy. The two year export ban could spell ruin for local farmers, some of whom depend on the export market. The European Union has agreed to provide some aid, and each farmer will be offered about 5'000 pesetas for every dead sheep. Local supermarkets are now only stocking imported lamb, mostly from Wales. The local ministry for agriculture has said that the sheep industry was facing its worst crisis for the last decade. This is believed to be the first reported case of Blue Tongue disease in Europe. The disease is common in North Africa. Local farmers say that even if the vaccine proves successful it will be many months before consumers starting eating local lamb again. Much of the lamb produced locally is sold domestically. In Minorca sheep farmers contribute many millions of pesetas to the local economy.