The appointment last week of rookie Abbotsford-Mission MLA Pam Alexis as agriculture minister came amid a deepening outbreak of highly pathogenic avian influenza in her home region of the Fraser Valley.
The disease didn’t merit a reference in Alexis’ mandate letter from the premier but it was one of the first orders of business she discussed with her federal counterpart Marie-Claude Bibeau.
While a few weeks typically pass before provincial and federal ministers chat, the two have already discussed an outbreak that has infected 56 commercial farms in BC since mid-November and impacted more than 1.3 million birds.
The rapid spread of the disease in recent weeks has been blunted by strong industry-led biosecurity protocols and the Canadian Food Inspection Agency has so far held off escalating current measures.
However, various sources are indicating a review of practices may be in the offing to better limit the spread of the disease in a region that has the highest concentration of poultry farms in the country.
Testing has so far failed to indicate farm-to-farm transmission, indicating the biosecurity protocols are working.
However, small-lot growers have not reported a single case since November 14. Prior to this date, they represented the majority of cases.
Neither industry nor CFIA representatives have been able to explain the shift in infections. However, all growers are encouraged to maintain existing biosecurity protocols to protect their flocks against infection.