Department introduces supports for bird flu-affected flocks

The Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine has introduced a financial support scheme for poultry flocks affected by bird flu (avian influenza).

Welcoming the development, Irish Farmers’ Association (IFA) poultry chairperson Andy Boylan said that the scheme will apply to the 14 flock owners who suffered total flock loss due to bird flu in the past four months.

These farms are all located in the Monaghan region. The funding is given on a ‘de minimis’ basis, which refers to relatively small amounts of aid, which cannot exceed €200,000 for a single enterprise over three fiscal years.

The scheme is only open to farms affected up until today, Wednesday, July 1. A payment of €20,000 will be made available to all successful applicants to the scheme, totaling €280,000.

“While this will not cover the losses that any poultry farmer incurred due to bird flu infection on their farms, it will go some way towards the costs incurred during the culling and disinfection process,” Boylan said.

The strain of bird flu that was discovered in Co. Monaghan earlier this year – which subsequently spread to a number of other farms – was a low pathogen type, with no risk to human health. Therefore, it was classed as a ‘non-notifiable’ type of disease, according to EU regulations.

Flock owners are not automatically entitled to compensation for the non-notifiable type of disease.

Because this new funding is on a ‘de minimis’ basis, it is not subject to normal EU rules on state aid which restrict supports of this type.

The realities of bird flu disease means that production losses, and the high risk of infection spreading to neighbouring farms, is so great that the only viable solution is to completely cull infected flocks and disinfect the premise.

Boylan went on to acknowledge the work of the poultry industry in dealing with the outbreak so far, having created its own fund to assist flock owners.

The IFA poultry chairperson concluded by reminding flock owners to “maintain the highest standards of bio-security on their poultry farms”.