The Balearic Minister for Agriculture, Mateu Morro, told Parliament yesterday that the Blue Tongue virus outbreak that has claimed the lives of thousands of sheep in Majorca and Minorca and all but wiped out sales of local lamb, is under control. Morro said that the areas where the virus has been detected have not expanded and that 50'000 of the 400'000 vaccines from South Africa that have been administered have already had a “marked and important” effect. The Minister also gave absolute guarantees yesterday that all of the farmers who have lost sheep to the virus will receive compensation. Morro said that this week he met ministers in Madrid and central government has already agreed to provide 100 million pesetas to start the ball rolling. Morro admitted that more money is needed to compensate for the loss of thousands of sheep, 2'000 have been either killed by the virus or slaughtered in Majorca alone. As far as Morro is concerned, he wants farmers to receive the full market value of each sheep lost which is between 10'000 and 13'000 pesetas each. The Minister said that there are growing concerns in his department that the combined effects of two years of drought and now the virus outbreak are going to have long term repercussions on the local farming industry and the future has to be taken into account. Morro intends to set up a committee the task of which will be to examine ways of improving farming methods and increasing exports. Most import for the immediate future is to restore the consumer confidence in the local lamb industry and ensure maximum levels of quality.

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