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Poultry industry opt-out packages enhanced

by 5m Editor
6 July 2005, at 12:00am

HONG KONG - The Executive Council has approved the enhanced ex-gratia payment package for live poultry farmers, wholesalers and transporters who surrender licences and tenancies voluntarily, the Health, Welfare & Food Bureau says.

Poultry industry opt-out packages enhanced - HONG KONG - The Executive Council has approved the enhanced ex-gratia payment package for live poultry farmers, wholesalers and transporters who surrender licences and tenancies voluntarily, the Health, Welfare & Food Bureau says.

With the enhancement, the payment for each chicken farm will rise by $150,000, and each pigeon farm by $50,000, to account for their investment in biosecurity facilities as specified in the licensing conditions.

As a result, the minimum payout to a chicken farm will become $450,000 while the ceiling will be revised from $4 million to $4.15 million. The total funding required for providing payments and one-off grants for affected workers will also be raised from $342.1 million to about $366.1 million.

The bureau said the Government has revised the opt-out package taking into account views expressed by the trade and lawmakers without compromising the principle of protecting public health.

Poultry population capped

The bureau will maintain the maximum licensing capacity of local poultry farms at 2 million.

In case the total number reared in local poultry farms falls below 2 million through the voluntary surrender scheme, any subsequent application to raise the licensing capacity of the remaining farms will only be considered exceptionally on a case-by-case basis.

Health authorities will need to be consulted and the overall cap on the licence capacity will remain at 2 million.

The Government has undertaken to maintain the existing level of support to the poultry farmers remaining in operation, including loans for upgrading of biosecurity measures and other technical assistance.

Surrender scheme

The Government aims to introduce the voluntary surrender scheme within a month following funding approval by the Finance Committee. Funding of $380.1 million will be sought.

The bureau said there is an urgent need to implement the proposed voluntary surrender scheme as soon as possible to reduce the risk of outbreaks before the coming of the high-risk winter season.

After securing the necessary funding, the Director of Agriculture, Fisheries & Conservation will closely monitor the response to the scheme during the initial six-month period of implementation.

To tally with the launch of payment packages for live poultry farmers, wholesalers and transporters, the Government will also seek endorsement to extend the application period of the payment and loans to live poultry retailers, and the one-off grant for live poultry retail workers, under the voluntary surrender scheme for live poultry retailers.

The current retraining courses for retail workers and the associated financial arrangements will also stop.

Source: Hong Kong Government - 5th July 2005

5m Editor