Funding Enhances Biosecurity
By Jim Knisley
More than 135 Ontario poultry producers have picked up what many people would consider some pretty easy biosecurity money.
The producers were among 500 that took in a four-hour biosecurity refresher course, decided what they wanted to do, developed a plan and applied. So long as the project fit the criteria and they were willing to spend some of their own cash, they could get up to $10,000 from the federal/provincial Growing Forward biosecurity program.
So far poultry producers have had the program all to themselves, as they are the only livestock sector with an approved national biosecurity plan. While there are national standards in place, the program differs from province to province. Both Alberta and Ontario will help pay for on-farm projects that qualify, while Nova Scotia relies on education.
In Ontario farmers must also attend a four-hour biosecurity course, held by the Poultry Industry Council (PIC) and the Ontario Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs (OMAFRA), while in Alberta there is no requirement to attend a course.
Al Dam, poultry specialist with OMAFRA, says qualifying is “relatively painless – all you have to do is spend four hours with me.”
“We give you (poultry producers) the tools and you do your own action plan.”
When the action plan is approved, the producer goes ahead with the project, which can range from gravelling the perimeter of a barn, to laying a concrete pad for manure storage, to water purification to a host of other options.
In Ontario, the government will refund up to 50 per cent of the cost to a maximum of $20,000. Dam says: “You spend $20,000 before you get the $10,000 back.”
Ed McKinlay, of McKinlay Farms, said: “It’s a pretty good program.”
It went over all the things we know we should do and should be doing. “There’s a lot of common sense in it,” he said.
In addition to the refresher course, McKinlay also qualified for help to pay for a water treatment system. He said the water in his area has high iron content and the treatment system deals with that.
John Kraay, who farms with his sons Darren and Chad near Jarvis, Ont., said he took full advantage of the program, by installing a concrete composter, and buying a new pressure washer and feed bins.
He also said the program was useful and Dam did a good job presenting the information. The only hitches were delays in processing the receipts he sent in and authorizing the government rebate cheque.
He said he sent in bank statements on his purchases that said: “paid in full.”
“Paid in full should be good enough,” he said. But for some reason, the officials required more information and that delayed his payment by an additional month.
Dam said water treatment and manure composting are a couple of the more popular installations under the program.
Ontario has held 23 workshops across the province.
In Alberta, the program is also proving popular, according to Cara Dary, biosecurity and special projects co-coordinator with the provincial agriculture department.
The Alberta program is richer than Ontario’s. Producers can qualify for up to $20,000 in government rebates for a $40,000 project. In addition, there isn’t a requirement to attend a biosecurity course.
However, producers must clearly identify what they intend to do and it must fall into one of three areas related to biosecurity – access, health impact or operations management. Under access, anterooms with change rooms and showers have proven popular, she said.
Under health, water quality and improved ventilation are popular. Under operations management, dead stock incinerators, composters, concrete flooring, pressure washers, and pest and rodent control are all popular.
To be eligible, producers must get a registration number and submit an application that describes their plan and how it improves biosecurity, she said.
All sectors of Alberta’s poultry industry are taking advantage of the program. “It is popular across the board,” she said.
Nova Scotia is entering its third year of the Growing Forward Biosecurity Implementation Program and is doing it differently than Ontario and Alberta.
The Nova Scotia Department of Agriculture contracted AgraPoint to oversee this program with funding going towards biosecurity training and provision of biosecurity tools for poultry and livestock producers to enhance biosecurity implementation.
Tools developed, like the Nova Scotia Biosecurity Booklet, are the foundation for the training and implementation efforts, said Alex Oderkirk of Agrapoint. The Nova Scotia Biosecurity Booklet provides the Principles of Biosecurity as well as a variety of Standard Biosecurity Protocols (SBP) and accompanying forms to help producers develop a proper biosecurity program for their farm operations. A variety of biosecurity signs have also been developed to complement the training effort and are readily available to poultry and livestock producers.
A number of workshops, seminars, presentations on biosecurity have been and will be held to provide producers with biosecurity information to increase their knowledge in this animal health and food safety area and help them develop proper biosecurity programs for their farming operations, he said.
Another biosecurity tool being developed for Nova Scotia producers is a webpage, www.biosecuritynovascotia.com, which contains the Biosecurity Booklet and other biosecurity information. An added feature being worked on for this webpage is an interactive “Virtual Biosecure Farm” that will add to the training effort and give producers an interactive tool and another aspect in how to develop an effective farm biosecurity program.
The funding of the Growing Forward Biosecurity Program in Nova Scotia is much lower than in Ontario, so the funding is being used to train producers rather than producers having access to funds for biosecurity projects, Oderkirk said. By using funds in this manner, producers are properly trained and given the proper tools to implement an effective biosecurity program on their farming operations, he said.
The national Farm Biosecurity Program is designed to help producers achieve the target outcomes listed in the National Avian On-Farm Biosecurity Standard. A target outcome is defined by the Canadian Food Inspection Agency as: a goal that all keepers of poultry should aim for if they are to protect their flocks from the introduction and spread of avian diseases.
Examples of target outcomes and projects eligible under the national Farm Biosecurity Program include:
- Visual indicators (signs) to define the Controlled Access Zone (CAZ) and Restricted Access Zone (RAZ);
- Placing of signage, fencing, gates or other physical barriers to identify zones and access points;
- Installation of locks or a security system at RAZ entrance;
- Installation of anteroom or sanitizing stations;
- More stringent additional biosecurity measures are implemented, either at the barn or premises level, where “all in/all out” scheduling and downtime is not practical.
Other outcomes and projects eligible include sanitation equipment and modifications to barns to allow for segregation of birds.
All cost-share funds are available on a first come, first served basis up to the available annual funds for each year of the program. Applicants must meet the program eligibility criteria, and adhere to all program terms and conditions and project claim submission deadlines, to qualify for cost share.
The Farm Biosecurity Program is part of the Best Practices Suite of programs under Growing Forward, a federal-provincial-territorial initiative.