Minister must provide avian flu compensation cover for poultry farmers – Carthy

Deputy Matt Carthy has called on Minister for Agriculture Charlie McConalogue to ensure that either “adequate insurance cover or a suitable compensation package” is in place to cover poultry farmers in the event of any strain of avian influenza.

The Sinn Féin spokesperson on agriculture was speaking after it emerged that a case of the H5N8 strain of the disease had been confirmed in a swan in Northern Ireland and in a falcon in Co. Limerick.

“Poultry farmers are operating under extremely precarious circumstances,” the deputy said.

“While they take every precaution possible to prevent avian influenza infecting their flocks, should they face an infection, they have no resources as of right.

“Worse still, there is absolutely no insurance cover available to mitigate the risk – meaning that entire livelihoods are threatened in the event of an outbreak.”

‘Must bring peace of mind to our poultry farmers’

The deputy said that earlier this year, he engaged with the then Minister for Agriculture and was “pleased that a compensation package was provided to those farmers who had their livestock culled” as a result of the H6N1 strain, “albeit that the compensation levels came nowhere close to the actual loss of income”.

However, the deputy said Minister McConalogue confirmed last week that those affected farmers have yet to receive the promised compensation – “although there is now a commitment that it will be forthcoming ‘imminently'”.

As we now face the scenario of further outbreaks of differing strains of the avian flu, it is imperative that the government provide a safety net – either in the form of insurance cover or a standard compensation scheme for those affected.

“Minister McConalogue must bring this peace of mind to our poultry farmers. I have written to the minister to request that he addresses this issue before we face the emergency of new outbreaks.”