Poultry producers outside of Ontario’s supply-managed poultry sector can now apply for funding to fend off the risk of highly pathogenic avian influenza (HPAI).
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On Nov. 24, the Ontario Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs announced up to $1.5 million in cost-share funding through the federal-provincial Canadian Agricultural Partnership “to help non-supply-managed poultry operations and related agri-businesses increase biosecurity efforts to reduce the spread of HPAI.”
Why it matters: The spread of avian influenza in supply-managed and non-supply-managed settings has the potential for severe economic and animal welfare repercussions.
The current strain of HPAI arrived in Canada in early spring 2022, most likely on the wings of migratory birds arriving on the Atlantic coast. This led to numerous outbreaks and Canadian Food Inspection Agency-led disease responses in several provinces.
Outbreaks ceased as the spring migration season passed, but the disease has resurfaced in several provinces this fall when wild birds were once again on the move.
Thanks to existing biosecurity-focused support programs through CAP and the Poultry and Egg On-Farm Investment Program, many in the supply-managed segments of the sector had the opportunity to enhance their premises to protect against HPAI and other diseases.
Those outside the quota system, however, would have had to fully fund their investments.
Meat and Poultry Ontario executive director Franco Naccarato cited those in the duck supply chain as an example of poultry production operating outside the supply management environment. As head of a provincial organization representing small-to-mid-scale meat and poultry processors, Naccarato noted duck producers and processors did not have programs readily available and were one of several “groups (that) fell through many of the funding mechanisms that were created for (biosecurity enhancement).”
Details of the new Poultry Biosecurity Preparedness Initiative haven’t been released.
The Poultry Service Association has members in businesses ranging from catching and transporting to breeding and processing farm-raised birds.
“Our members have been impacted by the avian influenza outbreaks and these funds will provide meaningful support toward maintaining and strengthening our biosecurity activities,” said executive director Susan Fitzgerald in an OMAFRA news release about the program.
The initiative will provide up to 70 per cent cost-share funding for expenses including controlled-entrance fencing and gates, security equipment, signage, pressure washers, wash stations, anterooms, segregation walls and measures to mitigate interactions between wild and farmed birds.
Eligible expenses can be retroactive to April 1, 2022, with maximum allotments per location of $100,000 and per business of $500,000.
The application window will open in January. The OMAFRA news release says the initiative will help “eligible non-supply-managed poultry and waterfowl farmers, meat processors in the sector and other related businesses in taking a variety of actions to increase biosecurity and reduce the risk of disease.”
On the farm side, funding is limited to non-supply-managed operations with flocks of at least 300 birds.
“This is a welcomed addition of funding,” Naccarato said in the release. “Avian influenza has impacted many businesses that were not covered by other programs. This new funding will help address the gap, and benefit producers in enhancing their biosecurity efforts.”