Majorca's first case of BSE - mad cow disease - was confirmed yesterday, along with a third case in Minorca, bringing the total number of cases to four in the Balearics and 47 in Spain. Although the first tests carried out in Palma on the two suspect animals proved positive, the local farming community was hoping that the final two sets of testing in Madrid and Zaragoza would prove negative. These two new cases have sent shock waves through the region. Sales of beef, which reached rock bottom at the start of the year, have been gradually recovering and hotels and restaurants, which had taken beef off the menu, only last month decided to start serving beef again. One of the local government initiatives to help revive the beef sector was to convince hotels to serve local beef to tourists - however, for visitors from European countries hit by mad cow and foot-and-mouth, they will have little or no appetite for beef. The Majorcan case was detected in a dairy cow on a farm in Campos - where some 350 head of cattle have been in quarantine ever since. The third case in Minorca was found on the farm where the region's first case was detected and the routine cull of cattle on both farms has already started, much to the indignation of local farmers. When news of the Campos discovery first broke, Majorcan farmers reacted angrily, claiming they have been “persecuted” by the government and threatened to mount a huge tractor protest in Palma in a bid to prevent any more mass slaughters being carried out in the Balearics.

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