Chicken farmers support amendments to the Animal Health Act
By Brett Ruffell, Canadian Poultry
Brian Lewis, Chicken Farmers of Ontario (CFO) board director for District 3, and Kory Preston, CFO’s Manager of Public Affairs, presented to the Standing Committee on Finance and Economic Affairs in support of proposed amendments to the Animal Health Act, 2009.
If passed, the proposed amendments would allow the Ontario Minister of Agriculture, Food, and Rural Affairs to issue a temporary response order in the event of an animal health emergency, such as Avian Influenza.
CFO supports the proposed amendments, as they are aligned with CFO’s risk mitigation priorities and promote animal welfare, and supply chain security.
“Prevention and preparation are the best way to mitigate the risk of Avian Influenza spread,” said Brian Lewis, board director for District 3.
“Failure to respond rapidly can lead to serious impacts on supply-managed poultry farmers and their industry partners, and has the potential to create significant supply chain and trade disruptions. The proposed amendments would allow the Ontario Minister of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs to issue a temporary emergency order to help protect flocks, without delay.”
In 2022, Ontario’s poultry farmers experienced Avian Influenza present in the environment. When Avian Influenza is detected, chicken farmers implement even stricter biosecurity measures to prevent the disease from spreading.
As expressed by Health Canada and the Canadian Food Inspection Agency, there is no evidence to suggest that eating cooked chicken could transmit Avian Influenza to humans. The disease is not a food safety issue, but instead a flock safety issue.
One area CFO and the supply-managed poultry sector identified as a risk for disease spread was backyard flocks, show birds, and auctions. To help address this vulnerability, Minister Thompson, on the recommendation of the Chief Veterinarian for Ontario, implemented Minister’s Orders in both Spring and Fall, which restricted the commingling of birds.
“The Minister’s Orders were a critical step in mitigating the risk of Avian Influenza spread, and we thank the Minister, the Chief Veterinarian for Ontario, and Ontario Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs for taking this important action,” said Murray Opsteen, Chair of Chicken Farmers of Ontario.
“At the onset of an animal health emergency, such as Avian Influenza, a rapid response is critical. The proposed amendments to the Animal Health Act would provide the Minister with the tools necessary to implement an effective and timely response.”
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