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Joint Effort Showing Results: The B.C. Poultry Biosecurity/Emergency Response Initiative

B.C. Poultry Biosecurity/Emergency Response Initiative


February 12, 2008
By Tamara Leigh and Lynn Elwell AAFC

Topics

The 2004 avian influenza outbreak in the Fraser Valley resulted in the
depopulation of millions of birds, and temporarily shut down most of
the B.C. poultry industry.  In response, the B.C. Poultry Association
took the lead in developing an integrated strategy to help prevent and
control future disease outbreaks.

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Huge Step for Industry
Jack Vaandrager (centre) of Jaron Farms is the first producer in B.C.
to receive a biosecurity compliance certification.  He is shown with
B.C. Egg Marketing Board Chair David Taylor (left) and general manager
Al Sakalauskas.

The 2004 avian influenza outbreak in the Fraser Valley resulted in the depopulation of millions of birds, and temporarily shut down most of the B.C. poultry industry.  In response, the B.C. Poultry Association took the lead in developing an integrated strategy to help prevent and control future disease outbreaks.  

To enhance and support the industry’s efforts Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada, the B.C. Ministry of Agriculture and Lands, the Canadian Food Inspection Agency, and Investment Agriculture Foundation of B.C. provided funding and technical help to promote the adoption of biosecurity practices and emergency response protocols for the B.C. industry.

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The resulting B.C. Poultry Biosecurity/ Emergency Response Initiative includes a comprehensive pilot biosecurity program for producers, an emergency response plan with seamless integration with provincial and federal government responses, as well as a premise identifi-cation program that allows for the clear and unique identification of all registered poultry premises.  Combined, these tools provide a co-ordinated rapid response to a disease outbreak or other emergency in the poultry industry.

In 2004’s AI outbreak, Jack and Sharon Vaandrager’s layer operation, Jaron Farms, was in the area most impacted by the containment efforts.  “Having gone through the process of depopulation it really drives home the importance of biosecurity,” Vaandrager says.  “We have to do whatever we can to minimize the risk of an outbreak like this happening again.”

The biosecurity program assists in implementation of mandatory standards including the development of standard operating procedures. There are 18 mandatory standards related to farm access, barn access, farm management and flock health. 

“The standard operating procedures were what stuck out most for me,” explains Vaandrager. “Following these procedures every day keeps us from getting complacent as time goes by.” Examples of Standard Operating Procedures that farms are required to implement include self-quarantines, cleaning and decontamination, pest control, manure management, and mortality disposal.

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The individual farm plans are developed with the assistance of planning advisors who help producers determine what work needs to be completed in order to comply with biosecurity standards.   Financial assistance is available to producers to help off-set the cost of implementing the biosecurity protocols.  Once the work is done, the B.C. Marketing Boards and Commissions administer a formal audit to provide biosecurity compliance certification for regulated B.C. poultry producers. 

Jaron Farms was the first operation in B.C. to complete the biosecurity audit process.  “Once you finish the work you call up the board and they send an auditor.  It took us the morning to get through.  There were a couple of minor things that needed to be done and then it was finished.  It’s nothing major and not too costly.”

“It’s a huge step for our industry, and the government has been really strong in pushing this forward,” say Vaandrager.  “At the end of the day the value is the peace of mind in knowing that you’ve done what you can to minimize the risk of disease coming on to your farm.”

To date in B.C., over 440 of the province’s 598 premises have completed biosecurity plans and are making changes as needed to meet the standards.  Industry-led audits and certification are underway and will continue through 2008.

The deadline to apply for funding assistance to implement mandatory standards is Feb. 29, 2008.  All work must be completed by June 30, 2008 and all paid invoices must be submitted for reimbursement
by July 31, 2008. For more information, producers can contact Garth Bean, delivery co-ordinator, at
604-854-0222, or by e-mail at garthbean@look.ca .