BCâs poultry sector gathered as a whole for the first time since 2020 after three years of pandemic-related restrictions and uncertainties.
But another pandemic was in the spotlight at the March 2-3 conference, with highly pathogenic avian influenza figuring into the annual reports of all sector groups and the educational sessions.
Any way you slice it, the poultry industry has been hit hard by the latest outbreak, with nearly 3.7 million domestic birds affected on 103 premises in BC.Â Of these, 78 premises were commercial farms.Â While less than 1% of annual broiler production was impacted,Â 16Â of the provinceâs 46 turkey farms were infected, affecting a third ofÂ annualÂ production volume.
All told, the cleaning and disinfection fund maintained by the chicken, turkey and broiler hatching egg sectorsÂ will beÂ exhausted, leading to discussions around fair compensation for the several affected farms that have yet to be paid for clean-up activities.
With fresh reports of cases in Eastern Canada pointing to the potential for a spring outbreak, growers are on high alert.
âThe challenges are not over, the challenges will continue,â Farm Industry Review Board chair Peter Donkers told the BC Egg Marketing Board.
To this end, BC agriculture minister Pam Alexis announced preliminary details of a new farmed animal disease response program that aims to prepare livestock producers to respond to and recover from future disease outbreaks.
âOur government is developing a new and comprehensive program to help all of us prepare for and respond to animal disease outbreaks,â she told the conferenceâs closing gala. âThe complete details are still being fine-tuned, but this is a $5 million investment in the sector aimed at reducing the spread of disease and improving animal welfare.â
She says funding will support business planning and training, equipment purchases needed to respond to an outbreak, and the development of business models that will address risks.
She promised the ministryâs support in making sure the new program meets the needs of both growers and their associations, which typically invest long hours in helping growers navigate permitting requirements and other paperwork associated with disease outbreaks.
Updated: 09 March 2023 3:22 pm