As the risk of avian influenza increases this fall with the migration of waterfowl and other birds, B.C. poultry farmers are being supported with new planning and preparedness strategies and stronger biosecurity measures on their farms.
“Avian influenza can be devastating for B.C. farmers and have a significant impact on their livelihoods as well as on local economies and food supply,” said Pam Alexis, Minister of Agriculture and Food. “This is why we put a program in place that is now helping them increase their biosecurity measures and providing new tools and strategies to prepare for and respond to any potential outbreak as we head into the fall migration. B.C.’s poultry and egg farmers have shown great dedication to ensure they have the necessary safety measures in place, and we will continue to work closely together with them to protect their animals and our overall food security.”
In spring 2023, the $5-million Farmed Animal Disease Program was introduced to help livestock and poultry farmers prepare for the risk of animal disease, such as avian influenza, swine fever and foot-and-mouth disease. The program, delivered by the Investment Agriculture Foundation, is helping fund the planning and purchasing of equipment needed for disease response, training exercises, enhanced biosecurity measures, and the research and implementation of strategies that reduce the risk of infection and disease.
“This program will increase the poultry sector’s on-farm biosecurity levels and the sector’s response time during an outbreak of highly pathogenic avian influenza (HPAI),” said Steve Heppell, chair, B.C. Poultry Association. “Partnering with the Province of British Columbia on farmed animal disease projects will keep British Columbia on the leading edge of prevention across the entire sector, including poultry farmers, poultry and egg processors, graders, feed companies and hatcheries. Improved biosecurity and alternative euthanasia methods to fight HPAI will benefit all British Columbians through reduced disease spread and increased food security.”
In addition to supporting the B.C. poultry industry, the B.C. Pork Producers Association has received funding from the program to help prevent swine fever through enhanced biosecurity on B.C. hog farms.
- The Ministry of Agriculture and Food is the lead provincial ministry responsible planning and preparing for animal disease outbreaks affecting the livestock and poultry sector.
- The ministry’s Animal Health Centre, located in Abbotsford, handles more than 6,000 case submissions annually while diagnosing, monitoring and assisting in controlling and preventing diseases such as avian influenza.
- Avian influenza is a federally regulated disease and the Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) leads the investigation and response with provincial support for testing, mapping, surveillance and disposal.
- Since April 2022, the CFIA has confirmed outbreaks of the highly pathogenic strain of avian influenza on 104 premises around B.C., affecting more than 3.6 million birds.
- The last confirmed case of avian influenza on a B.C. premises was in April 2023.
For CFIA information about current state of avian influenza in Canada, visit: https://inspection.canada.ca/animal-health/terrestrial-animals/diseases/reportable/avian-influenza/response-to-detections-of-highly-pathogenic-avian-/eng/1640207916497/1640207916934
For CFIA factsheet about avian influenza, visit: https://inspection.canada.ca/animal-health/terrestrial-animals/diseases/reportable/avian-influenza/fact-sheet/eng/1356193731667/1356193918453#a2
For Ministry of Agriculture and Food information about avian influenza, including what to be on the lookout for and resources for small-flock owners, visit: https://www2.gov.bc.ca/gov/content/industry/agriculture-seafood/animals-and-crops/animal-health/reportable-notifiable-diseases/avian-influenza-ai