The British Poultry Council has urged the government to introduce a national housing order for poultry and kept birds in response to the growing number of cases of avian influenza.
Yesterday, a housing order was introduced in Norfolk, Suffolk and parts of Essex, where there has been a particular cluster of outbreaks over the past few weeks. However, the BPC said this did not go far enough.
“Given the increasing number of cases, a national housing order is one of the necessary controls that can be taken to reflect the commercial interests of farmers and food producers up and down the country,” said Richard Griffiths, chief executive of the BPC.
He added there should also be a review of the compensation policy currently in effect for producers whose flocks are culled as a result of AI. He said compensation should be “paid at the point of disease confirmation.” This would bring poultry “in line with other sectors when they face disease challenges.”
The scale of avian influenza cases over the past year has been unprecedented, with 190 confirmed cases to date across the UK: 165 in England, 7 in Wales, 12 in Scotland and 6 in Northern Ireland.
Griffiths said the costs were mounting. “It is impossible to put an exact figure on it in the midst of the outbreak, but the mitigating measures, licensing issues and lost trade as a direct result is costing BPC members tens of millions of pounds.”