The Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine, Charlie McConalogue has said that valuation tables will be used to determine compensation paid to poultry farmers hit by bird flu outbreaks.

Yesterday (Tuesday, December 14), Northern Ireland Agriculture Minister, Edwin Poots told the Stormont Assembly that a fifth case of the Highly Pathogenic Avian Influenza (HPAI) H5N1 had been detected in the Republic of Ireland.

“In the Republic of Ireland, as of today (Tuesday, December 14), HPAI H5N1 has been confirmed at five commercial holdings, four in Co. Monaghan and one in Co. Cavan,” he said.

“The disease control zones for two of the cases in Co. Monaghan and the Co. Cavan case extend into Northern Ireland and my department has established corresponding disease control zones as required,” Poots added.

Poots said that as of yesterday, 48 cases of bird flu have been confirmed across Great Britain since the first case was confirmed in England on October 26, 2021; outbreaks range from ‘backyard flocks’ to commercial operations.

Bird flu

Minister for Agriculture, Charlie McConalogue has said the Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine (DAFM) is continuing to closely monitor the situation and is maintaining close contact with stakeholders.

“My priority is working proactively with the sector to ensure that commercial flocks are protected,” McConalogue told Sinn Féin TD Matt Carthy.

In a parliamentary question, Carthy called for all poultry farmers who cull flocks in response to an outbreak of bird flu to receive compensation in a “timely manner”.

In November 2021, the DAFM developed valuation tables, based on expert advice and input, on the most common species and types of poultry in Ireland.

The Minister said these tables will be used to “quickly and consistently” determine the compensation paid “in the case of an outbreak of poultry disease that necessitates a cull”.

Minister McConalogue said that the compensation “may relate to the animal that is culled, or to an animal product, animal feed or similar item that is destroyed in relation to the outbreak”.

However, he added that “the compensation may not exceed the open market value of the animal or item”.

“Compensation is payable only to the owner of the animals or items affected. Consequential losses are not compensated for,” McConalogue said.

Since 2017, the valuation tables on compensation values have been updated twice yearly.

This year, the minister said that two flocks with confirmed cases of the notifiable Highly Pathogenic Avian Influenza H5N1 have been culled.

Another cull was in progress when the McConalogue responded to Matt Carthy.

“My department will pay any compensation due as quickly as possible,” the minister said.

“It is vital that appropriate biosecurity measures are in place at all times in order to mitigate against an introduction of disease,” McConalogue concluded.