Poultry Working Group activity
The Poultry Working Group (PWG) is an industry group which was set up to deal with the impending disastrous situation of Low Pathogenic Avian Infleunza (LPAI) and its effect on the Irish poultry sector in 2020. While the loss of over 500,000 poultry birds to LPAI in March-May of 2020 was a hammer blow to a small but very important reginal agriculture sector which has proven itself to be economical viable with very limited national or EU financially supports. This newly formed group, of which IFA is a member, represented by IFA Poultry Chairman, Andy Boylan, has been proactive in providing industry sourced funding to assist in tackling LPAI outbreaks in a timely manner. Broiler groups contributed to this fund which provided financial assistance to farmers to cull LPAI positive flocks, to prevent the disease spreading further.
- The PWG has made a draft proposal to tackle future disease incidents such as LPAI in the future. It involved setting up a levy, to create a fund, which would be used to cover loses and expenses associated with certain disease outbreaks in the commercial poultry sector. Then proposal is based on international research and similar systems are operated across mainland Europe. These proposals will involve contributions from farmers and must be fully explain ed and discussed with all vested interested before moving forward. The Covid-19 meeting restrictions is making this process more difficult but no decisions will be made without the full support of poultry farmer groups and the IFA Poultry Committee.
PWG funded industry economic report
- During a funding call to industry stakeholders, the PWG decide to request funding for an economic report on the poultry sector. Unlike the Irish beef and dairy sector, information is not readily available as to the overall contribution that the poultry sector makes to the national economy, in terms of employment and output. While relatively small in term of numbers of farmers in the sector, it is a very viable sector with opportunities for future growth.The PWG commissioned Professor of Economics from UCC, Thia Hennessey to compile the report. This is due to be launched in mid-September and will highlight the importance, especially in certain regions of Ireland, of our most undervalued agricultural sector.
- 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 and followed the Covid-19 restrictions. With the streamlined and constant throughput nature of the broiler production system, processors acted quickly and decisively since the threat of Covid-1890 emerged, in order to protect their staff and the throughput of product to the final consumer. One of Irelands largest meat processing plants, over 100 million birds are processed annually in these three plants, Manor farm in Co Cavan, Western Brand in Co Mayo and Shannonvale in Co Cork. It is a great relief and testimony to the diligence of the measures put in place that not one worker in these three plants has tested 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. The risk posed by Avian Influenza (AI) remains 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 on 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 egg all meet the Lion Standard. These eggs 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 manage and compensate where necessary, any further disease outbreaks is in place in the future for Ireland 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.