De-Minimus Compensation for Poultry Farmers Affected by LPAI
LPAI (Low Pathogen Avian Infleunza) has affected a total of 14 poultry flocks, mostly eggs layers, but also two fattening turkey flocks, in the Monaghan region in the past 3 months. LPAI is a non-notifiable disease, meaning that there is no onus on the flock owner to depopulate, or any compensation from DAFM for losses incurred. The reality for any flock affected by LPAI is massive production loss followed by high mortality. As LPAI is highly infectious, the only responsible option for affected flock owners is to completely depopulate and cull the entire flock, and dispose in a very bio-secure manner. This comes at a high cost, of the poultry stock, complete loss of income for a sustained period, and the high rendering cost of flock disposal and site disinfection.
The industry stakeholders, including farmer broiler groups, answered a voluntary funding call to provide an industry fund to help these unfortunate farmers to dispose of LPAI positive flocks in a timely manner, to avoid further spread of the poultry disease , especially in the high poultry density areas of Co Monaghan, where over 50% of broiler and egg production is based.
Following a detailed submission from IFA seeking a fully funded compensation scheme for the affected farmers, and lobbying led by the IFA Poultry Chairman, Andy Boylan, DAFM have a De-Minimus scheme for the 14 affected farmers to a total of €20,000 to each farmer.
Continuing Threat to the Poultry Industry from Avian Infleunza (AI) and other Zoonotic Diseases
The industry recently formed a Poultry Working Group, (PWG) including IFA representing all poultry farmers, to tackle the huge and ongoing threat the sector faces from disease such as AI. Ongoing engagement with DAFM on exploring options to deal with disease outbreaks in the future and higher levels of bio-security in all stages of poultry broiler and egg production are needed.
Broiler production remains constant at around 2 million broilers every week. It is a great credit to the three poultry processing plants that have managed to maintain production without any interruption while following Covid-19 restrictions. With the streamlined and constant throughput nature of the broiler production system, processors acted quickly and decisively in early March, in order to protect their staff and the throughput of product to the final consumer. One of Irelands largest meat processing plants, Manor Farm in Shercock, Cavan processes 850,000 birds per week and employs over 600 people on site, have had not one worker testing positive for Covid-19 to date. Extra shifts through the night and into the weekends, allowed production levels to be maintained, and workers to keep the recommended distance from fellow workers. PPE and proper guidance by employers to all staff in the poultry sector prevented any hotspots of infection from becoming an issue.
Demand for chicken did experience significant surge in retail demand following restriction introductions in March this has been offset by the falloff in foodservice sales.
The risk posed by Avian Influenza (AI) remains a threat to the entire sector and IFSA reminds all farmers to maintain the highest standards of biosecurity.
Following 14 confirmed outbreaks of LPAI, in the Co Monaghan region, circa 550,000 laying hens were culled. This has left a shortfall of eggs in the Irish market. The increase in retail demand combined with this shortfall has created a perfect storm in the table egg market. The main egg packers are importing Northern Irish eggs to cover the shortfall of Irish eggs. These eggs all meet the Lion Standard and have been temporarily approved to be sold in Bord Bia Quality assured packs from Irish packers, in order to hold retail markets. Restocking of many of the culled hen laying houses is underway, and the industry is fully committed to having a dedicated chain of supply of Bord Bia Quality Assured eggs as soon as possible.
Egg Price Campaign
IFA has started a campaign to get all retailers to pay an increased egg price to the supply chain, and ultimately back to farmers, to cover the increased risks the entire industry carries, especially egg farmers. IFA will lead this campaign and coordinate farmer–retailer meetings and egg packer meetings in order to ensure the risks are recognised financially by the supply chain.
The IFA will continue to engage along with the PWG (Poultry Working Group) to ensure an acceptable system to manage and compensate any further disease outbreaks is in place, in the future for Ireland’s poultry sector.
Egg Price Campaign
As Above. The IFA is in talks with stakeholders to ensure adequate remuneration for all costs and risks borne by commercial and free-range egg producers is returned from the marketplace.
The Poultry Chairman, Andy Boylan, along with the Chairman of the IFA Pigs Committee Tom Hogan, have written to the newly appointed Minister for Agriculture, Barry Cowen requesting a meeting to discuss and progress the TAMs- PPIS (Pig & Poultry Investment Scheme) and other sector pressing issues. The previously announced increase in the investment limit from €80,000 up to €200,000 for the PPIS has, to date never been implemented. It is a priority for both these IFA committees that this in implemented as soon as possible.