Farmers to bear costs of culled poultry in deadly avian flu outbreak
The poultry industry, reeling from the deadly avian flu outbreak, has been dealt another potential blow with the Department of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries confirming it will only compensate farmers for the culling of uninfected birds.
Outbreaks of the virus have been recorded in six provinces, which has put thousands of jobs on the line. The Eastern Cape recorded its first case of bird flu on Thursday.
The South African Poultry Association (Sapa) had called for a more holistic approach in terms of compensating farmers, including taking into consideration the labour and chemicals used to clean farms that had been affected by the virus.
Affected farms have to cull all birds on the property and recall and destroy all eggs as part of measures to control the spread of the virus. Farms also have to shut down production for up to six months, while they embark on surveillance and cleaning.
Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries Minister Senzeni Zokwana said in a reply to a parliamentary question from the DA on Thursday that his department would not compensate birds culled which were infected or had been in contact with poultry infected with avian flu. "Chickens infected with HPAI [highly pathogenic avian influenza] show an extremely high mortality rate within a very short period and no part of the carcasses can be used for any purpose except for the production of compost on site.
"Eggs from infected sites must be destroyed as per the instruction on the quarantine notice and such eggs are also considered to have no value. Detailed guidelines on how compensation will be applied for the culling of uninfected birds are currently being developed."
He said the department had not set aside any funds for the recent avian flu outbreak.
"The department has, however, requested the ministers’ committee on the budget for funds to be allocated for the control of the outbreak and for paying compensation [for the culling of uninfected birds]."
Charlotte Nkuna, the acting CE of Sapa, said the association was still awaiting the guidelines on compensation.