On January 1, a Balearic-wide mad cow test programme will be launched with the bulk of the region's cattle herds in Minorca. Despite the Balearic Minister for Agriculture Mateo Morro having told the general public that tests have already been carried out and that there are no cases of mad cow in the Balearics, a new wave of tests is to begin at the start of the New Year. A total of 4'500 head of cattle will be tested, 3'000 of which are in Minorca, home to 14'000 of nearly 22'000 cattle in the Balearics aged over 24 months. The same private company which fought the Blue Tongue sheep virus has been contracted to now check over the cattle stocks and the tests are being partly financed by central government which is to invest just over 13 million pesetas in the 84 million mad cow plan. The tests will initially be carried out on cattle showing symptoms of problems with their nervous system, those which have died on the farms and those destined for the abattoir. The bulk of the tests will be carried out at the Mahon and Ciutadella municipal abattoirs so that the Balearic Ministry for Agriculture is left with no doubts. The Minorcan Insular Councillor for Agriculture, Esther Riudavets, who categorically said that there are no cases of mad cow in the Balearics before the Balearic Minister went on the record, said more recently that the chance of mad cow being detected are very remote in Minorca. She said that conditions under which the cattle are grazed and fed are so highly controlled by the local co-operatives but until the tests have been completed she is now holding her cards close to her chest.