Government fund for farmers hit by bird flu with "pandemic potential"

The government is to pay poultry farmers whose flocks have been affected with a strain of a virus that has “pandemic potential”.
Government fund for farmers hit by bird flu with
The H6N1 strain of avian flu can cause a drop in egg production, mild depression and an increase in mortality. File picture.
The H6N1 strain of avian flu can cause a drop in egg production, mild depression and an increase in mortality. File picture.

The government is to pay poultry farmers whose flocks have been affected with a strain of a virus that has “pandemic potential”.

At least 13 flocks have been affected by a particular strain of avian influenza - subtype H6N1 - since the first case was identified in February this year. They are almost entirely based in Cavan and Monoghan.

One of the farmers affected had to cull more than 450,000 birds.

Clinical signs included a significant drop in egg production, mild depression, and a slight increase in mortality.

Farmers will get up to €20,000 each from the scheme, which will cost around €280,000.

Under-fire Agriculture Minister Brian Cowan released a short statement announcing a one-off scheme.

It noted H6N1 has “no food safety implications” but does impact on flock productivity.

Mr Cowan said he wanted to acknowledge affected flock owners had “taken the correct action in depopulating their flocks for the greater good of the sector”.

He said, “In light of the significant economic impact this has had on their business, I am pleased to be able to provide some assistance towards the costs of depopulation which they have incurred.”

The affected flock owners will receive details of the scheme including terms and conditions in the coming days.

The Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine said it is also “engaging with representatives of the sector” with a view to encouraging the industry to “put in place risk management measures for the future”.

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