Several concerns of the BC poultry sector regarding the handling of the highly pathogenic H5N1 avian influenza outbreak last year were addressed this week by a federal commitment of $1.8 million.
Delivered over three years, the funding will support the BC Poultry Association’s preparation for direct participation in responses to future outbreaks.
“The poultry industry in British Columbia already provides valuable assistance with coordinating movement controls and permits during disease outbreaks and this agreement allows industry to play a critical role in the health of the sector, in partnership with the CFIA,” federal agriculture minister Lawrence MacAulay said in announcing the funding.
The funding will support a greater role for industry, recognizing that the scale of the national outbreak in 2021-2023 overwhelmed Canadian Food Inspection Agency resources, occurring on multiple fronts and in multiple species on a scale neither seen or expected in the past.
“This investment will enable industry-led destruction and biocontainment activities that will be completed with oversight from the CFIA so that overall response capacity is expanded without increased risk for animal welfare or disease spread,” the federal announcement notes.
In particular, the BC Poultry Association will use the funds to create and implement standard operating procedures for training, management of personal protection equipment, secondary destruction methods and hiring contractors.
BC Poultry will also create and tender a contract for a primary supplier for destruction, biocontainment and training as well as secondary destruction capacity to assist in the event of a surge in infected premises.
A partnership with AgSafe BC will assist with worker safety during training and annual fit tests for workers requiring personal protective equipment.
The funding will also support strategic partnerships with the BC Ministry of Agriculture and Food, processors and allied trades for an effective response effort.