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Poultry industry supports new stringent measures to combat avian influenza

by 5m Editor
7 April 2004, at 12:00am

BRITISH COLUMBIA - Phased depopulation of Fraser Valley birds will combat disease and ensure consumers continue to receive quality chicken, turkey and eggs.

Poultry industry supports new stringent measures to combat avian influenza - BRITISH COLUMBIA - Phased depopulation of Fraser Valley birds will combat disease and ensure consumers continue to receive quality chicken, turkey and eggs.

Four B.C. poultry groups – BC Chicken Growers Association, BC Broiler Hatching Egg Producers, BC Egg Producers and BC Turkey Producers – today expressed support for the Canadian Food Inspection Agency’s (CFIA’s) strict plans to eradicate the spread of avian influenza in the Fraser Valley.

Under the plan, all commercial and back-yard bird flocks within an expanded high-risk zone – bordered by Georgia Strait to the west, mountains to the north, Hunter Creek Weigh Scale to the east and the U.S. border to the south – would be depopulated over a six to eight week period.

Birds on farms that test positive for avian influenza will be humanely disposed of while millions of healthy birds will continue to be sent to market within the Fraser Valley and Greater Vancouver Region. Once all the farms in the high-risk zone have been cleaned and disinfected, the industry will begin the process of repopulating and returning to business.

“Our main goal is to stamp out avian influenza and rebuild our industry,” said Ray Nickel, president of the BC Poultry Committee. “Although these measures are drastic, we feel they are necessary to eradicate the disease among affected flocks. We will continue to work together with the CFIA and the provincial and federal government to implement these plans.”

Health authorities emphasize that poultry products sent to market from avian influenza-free farms in the Fraser Valley are completely safe to eat.

“Consumers can be confident that all eggs and chicken at their neighbourhood grocery store and favourite restaurant will continue to be the same quality poultry products they have come to expect,” said Bruce Arabsky of Superior Poultry.

The poultry industry will do everything it can to ensure there will not be shortages of poultry due to the depopulation plan. The industry will look to suppliers in other regions of the province along with other provinces to bring in poultry products to meet consumer demand.

“The B.C. poultry industry is hurting and we would like to thank the people of B.C. for their patience, cooperation and support during this difficult time,” said Nickel. “The best thing for our local industry is for consumers to continue enjoying quality B.C. chicken, turkey and eggs.”

The B.C. poultry industry has already lost $10 million to date due to avian influenza and the depopulation plan is expected to cost the industry hundreds of millions of dollars. B.C. poultry producers and processors have appealed to the provincial and federal governments for financial assistance and the resources necessary to help the battered industry recover.

Products from the Fraser Valley and the Lower Mainland represent 80 per cent of the B.C. poultry industry. Province-wide, B.C. has nearly 600 poultry producers employing approximately 5,000 people and generating more than $1 billion in annual revenue. Typically, 40 per cent of the Fraser Valley industry’s output, or $340 million in annual retail sales, is distributed to markets that are temporarily not accessible.

For more information on avian influenza and the depopulation plan, visit the CFIA’s Web site at
www.inspection.gc.ca or call the CFIA’s public inquiry line at 1-800-442-2342.

Source: British Columbia Egg Producers - 5th April 2004

5m Editor