Defra alters bird flu compensation scheme to aid farmer cash flow

A new package of measures has been announced to support the poultry industry with the UK's largest ever bird flu outbreak
A new package of measures has been announced to support the poultry industry with the UK's largest ever bird flu outbreak

The government will alter the existing bird flu compensation scheme allowing money to be paid to farmers from the outset of planned culling rather than at the end.

Defra said the swifter payments to farmers aimed to help stem any cash flow pressures and give earlier certainty about entitlement to compensation.

The new support for the poultry industry comes as farmers and bird keepers continue to see the impact of the UK's largest ever avian influenza outbreak.

Over 200 cases confirmed have been in the last 12 months, and the UK is currently under a nation-wide Avian Influenza Prevention Zone (AIPZ).

And in consultation with the Food Standards Agency, an easement to marketing rules will also be introduced in England.

This means that farmers who breed turkeys, geese or ducks for their meat will have an the option to slaughter their flocks early and to freeze these products.

The products can then be defrosted and sold to consumers between the period 28 November and 31 December 2022.

The government said this support option would give farmers certainty over business planning.

Announcing the new support on Friday (28 October), Farming Minister Mark Spencer said the solutions announced should help provide greater financial certainty for the sector.

"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," he said.

"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

Last week, the Chief Veterinary Officer introduced a national AIPZ, meaning that bird keepers must implement strict biosecurity measures to safeguard their flocks from this highly infectious disease.

In addition to this, a regional housing measure remains in place across Norfolk, Suffolk and parts of Essex, where keepers must house their flocks until further notice.

In a joint statement, the Chief Veterinary Officers for Britain s said: “Bird keepers have faced the largest ever outbreak of avian flu this year and with winter brings an even more increased risk to flocks as migratory birds return to the UK.

“Scrupulous biosecurity and hygiene measures is the best form of defence, which is why we have declared an AIPZ across Britain.

“The introduction of an AIPZ means regardless of whether you keep a few birds or thousands, you are legally required to meet enhanced biosecurity requirements to protect your birds from this disease.”