Glacier FarmMedia COVID-19 & the Farm

Avian flu insurance plan backed for Ontario turkeys

New plan to be mandatory for turkey farmers

turkeys
(Scott Bauer photo courtesy ARS/USDA)

Ontario’s turkey producer organization will get federal support to help set up a new mandatory insurance plan to cover costs incurred in any future outbreaks of avian influenza.

Southern Ontario MPs Neil Ellis and Tim Louis on Monday announced up to $559,285 in federal funding through the AgriRisk Initiatives: Administrative Capacity Building stream for Turkey Farmers of Ontario to “finalize and launch” its new insurance product.

The plan, once it’s completely in place, is expected to help “bridge the gap in existing coverage” for any turkey farm affected in an avian flu outbreak.

The plan would cover economic losses resulting from the difference between compensation through the Canadian Food Inspection Agency for animals ordered destroyed and their “full market value,” the government said.

The program could help cover affected farms’ “incremental costs,” such as cleaning and disinfection, veterinary services, the disposal of feed, and other costs related to the resumption of operations.

The new insurance product would be mandatory for all of the 176 turkey farmers in Ontario, the government said.

Once launched, the plan would be administered by the Poultry Insurance Exchange Reciprocal of Canada (PIE), which already offers separate avian flu-related insurance products for chicken, egg and broiler hatching egg producers in that province.

“The turkey industry has encountered numerous challenges over the past few years and this funding is very important for the implementation of an avian influenza insurance program,” TFO chair Brian Ricker, who farms at Dunnville, about 50 km south of Hamilton, said in the government’s release Monday.

“This will protect not only turkey producers but by extension the poultry industry in Ontario.”

“This new insurance product will help Ontario turkey farmers in their efforts to protect their businesses and return to production following a sudden outbreak of avian influenza,” federal Agriculture Minister Marie-Claude Bibeau said in the same release.

The AgriRisk funding stream supporting the new TFO plan is meant to support implementing and testing “new financial tools which allow producers to manage a defined business risk.”

Ontario’s, and Canada’s, most recent outbreak of highly pathogenic avian flu involved an H5N2 strain on three turkey operations near Woodstock in April 2015.

By the time the province was again declared avian flu-free in October that year, the affected farms’ barns were depopulated and movement control measures and surveillance had been imposed on over 70 other farms.

The most recent outbreak of high-path avian flu in domestic poultry in North America was a strain of H7N3 affecting a turkey farm in South Carolina’s Chesterfield County last April. Over 1,500 birds on the farm died of the disease and the remaining flock of over 32,000 was depopulated.

Ontario’s Feather Board Command Centre said at the time the most likely source of the strain in that case was migratory waterfowl on the Atlantic Flyway, which runs north up into southern Ontario, Quebec and Atlantic Canada but “has not been previously involved in outbreaks among commercial flocks.” — Glacier FarmMedia Network

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