In a letter sent to Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs Thérèse Coffey, the committee claimed current rules were unfair because payment was only made for healthy birds culled by Government vets from the Animal Plant and Health Agency.
However, because the current strain of bird flu kills birds so quickly, many of them die between the disease being notified by farmers and the arrival of the vets for culling. This means that the longer farmers have to wait for their cull, the less compensation they get.
Letter to secretary of State
The letter from the Committee, signed by EFRA chair Robert Goodwill, called on the Secretary of State to revise the rule so that compensation was paid based on the number of birds alive in an affected flock at the point farmers report the outbreak, rather than on the number of birds that are later culled.
It also called for wider changes to help the poultry sector better cope with bird flu and grilled the Government for details on what it was doing to develop a vaccine against the disease.
“However, as you will be aware, vaccination of poultry and most captive birds for avian influenza is not currently permitted in the UK and currently many countries will not allow the import of meat from animals that have been vaccinated for avian influenza,” said Goodwill.
Developing a vaccine
To this end, the letter also called on the Secretary of State to explain what her department was doing to address the regulatory and trade barriers that might prevent the rollout of any vaccine that is developed.
The EFRA committee is to hold a hearing on the latest outbreak of this highly contagious disease, which is threatening supplies of turkeys for the Christmas trade.
There have also been reports of egg shortages and egg rationing in supermarkets due to the combined effects of avian influenza and soaring costs facing farmers.