Last week, the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) announced new supportive measures, designed to support the British poultry industry as it continues to battle the largest outbreak of avian influenza on record.
The UK has seen over 200 cases of avian influenza in the past 12 months, with 86 of those being confirmed in the last 30 days. With such a sharp incline in the number of cases, the Government has announced two new measures to support farmers.
One of which includes altering the current bird flu compensation scheme. This first measure means farmers will be paid compensation from the outset of planned culling, as opposed to at the end.
Compensation for an avian influenza outbreak is normally paid on the healthy birds that must be culled, and not birds that have already died of the disease. With the current landscape, officials are getting to sites when high mortality has already been established, meaning farmers get very little compensation. Farm business owners had pointed out on multiple occasions that entire flocks can and have, in some cases, died in the time between reporting a suspected case and official testing.
These new amendments to the current compensation scheme aims to allow faster payments to farm businesses impacted by avian influenza, to help stem cash flow pressures and provide better certainty about their entitlement to compensation.
The second measure focuses on marketing, allowing an easement on the marketing rules for farmers and farm businesses in England. There has been no official statement regarding the marketing rules being eased anywhere other than England at present.
These new eased marketing rules mean that farmers who breed turkeys, geese or ducks for meat, will have the option to cull their poultry early and freeze these products. The products can then be defrosted and sold to consumers between the 28th November and 31st December 2022, in order to give farmers certainty over their business planning.
An additional statement from Defra read “We have a highly resilient food supply chain, producing over 11 million turkeys in the United Kingdom every year, with just under two thirds of these consumed over the Christmas period.”
Speaking on the new supportive measures, Farming Minister, Mark Spencer said “Farmers and poultry producers are facing real pressures as a result of this avian flu outbreak, and we know many are concerned about the impact on their flocks.
We hope the practical solutions announced today will help provide greater financial certainty. We very much appreciate the continued cooperation from the sector as we battle this insidious disease and will continue to keep the situation under close review.”
Biosecurity remains an effective way to mitigate the risks of an avian influenza outbreak
In the week prior to these new measures being announced, CVO Christine Middlemiss, echoed that bird keepers must implement strict biosecurity measures to safeguard their flocks from this highly infectious disease, with the news of a nationwide Avian Influenza Prevention Zone.
Livetec are experts in biosecurity
We offer a wide range of services designed to help farmers mitigate their risks of disease outbreaks, including a selection of plans, a unique biosecurity advisory service, Government approved contingency plans and Farm Health Guardian, a unique biosecurity management software.
Contact us today to find out more.
View our avian influenza outbreak timeline here.