Minister for Environment, Energy and Rural Affairs, Lesley Griffiths, has announced £5 million will be available through the Rural Development Programme will be used to help eradicate sheep scab.

Sheep scab is one of the most contagious disease of sheep in Wales and has been identified as a disease priority by the Wales Animal Health and Welfare Framework Group.

The funding is available to deliver an industry led project to tackle the disease in Wales. The announcement follows an industry proposal to eradicate sheep scab from Wales.

Further details of the project will be announced in the forthcoming months following ongoing discussions with industry representatives.

Announcing the funding, the Minister said: “Sheep scab has significant economic consequences for sheep producers and animal welfare issues for sheep. It is one of the most contagious disease of sheep in Wales and eradicating it is a priority for us and the industry.

“I’m pleased to be able to announce £5m Rural Development Programme funding will be used to help support the industry tackle the disease. Eradicating the disease has the potential to deliver significant lasting economic benefits for the sector at a particularly challenging time as we prepare to leave the European Union.”

The announcement has been welcomed by the farming unions.

NFU Cymru Livestock Board chairman, Wyn Evans said: “Sheep scab is a very contagious disease in Wales. It costs the sheep industry, which comprises of 14,000 holdings in Wales, millions of pounds a year and has health and welfare issues for sheep, therefore it’s been a key stream of work for us as a union.

“NFU Cymru was part of an industry working group that presented a detailed report to Welsh Government and the Animal Health and Welfare Working Group, on a proposed strategy to control this disease. Therefore we are pleased to see Rural Development Programme funds being sensibly spent and made available to tackle this disease which, if successful, will further enhance high welfare in the sheep industry in Wales. It will also have significant economic benefits that a control programme can bring to both individual farms and the industry as a whole.

“We now hope that Welsh Government will task the Welsh Sheep Scab Industry Group, which put together the report, with taking forward the strategy through the Wales Rural Development Programme, so we can implement a strategy and sensible measures that every farmer can easily implement on their farm.”