Bird flu spreads, but no compensation for SA farmers

Adding to the difficulties faced by South Africa’s poultry farmers is a renewed spread of avian influenza (bird flu). The disease spreads mostly through migrating wild birds and waterfowl.

The resultant mass cullings, including hundreds of thousands of healthy chickens, not only shuts down egg or broiler plants for a while, but producers receive no compensation from the government.

The SA Poultry Association (SAPA) said in a statement this week that both the egg and broiler sectors had been hard hit by recent outbreaks. The number of bird flu cases this year is higher than in any year since the virus hit commercial poultry flocks in 2017.

As no vaccines were yet available, the current control measures involved the culling and safe disposal of affected birds. The huge costs were becoming more than chicken farmers could bear, SAPA said.

“The enormous financial impact on producers through current disease control measure of culling is not sustainable, as South African producers are not receiving compensation from government. 

“Many producers in countries around the world receive governmental assistance in managing and controlling outbreaks, including financial compensation for their losses. 

“South African producers are extremely concerned about the latest outbreaks. Should the trend continue around the speed with which the disease is spreading, this could lead to shortages in the supply chain,” SAPA warned.