Funding recently announced for chicken industry emergency management

MAPLETON – Federal and provincial funding for a project to help the chicken industry manage birds in emergency situations was announced here on July 11.

Both levels of government are supporting the project, which officials say will build and strengthen industry capacity to effectively and humanely manage chickens in emergencies.

The governments have committed up to $350,873 in cost-share funding to Chicken Farmers of Ontario, working alongside the Ontario Broiler Hatching Egg and Chicken Commission and the Association of Ontario Chicken Processors under the Canadian Agricultural Partnership (CAP).

The project will deliver a third-party service to ensure chickens are handled in a humane manner during situations such as a disease outbreak or barn damage from fire or extreme weather.

“The Government of Canada is committed to helping Canada’s poultry sector proactively seek out new and innovative solutions to challenges faced by the industry,” stated federal Minister of Agriculture and Agri-Food Marie-Claude Bibeau, in a press release.

“Investing in emergency preparedness and management strategies helps support the Ontario poultry farmers in their efforts to raise healthy, productive and well-cared for animals and ensure a strong and sustainable path forward for the sector.”

Ontario Minister of Agriculture,  Food and Rural Affairs Ernie Hardeman  stated, “Emergency situations are a reality on farms. It’s important to our government to make sure that if and when those emergencies happen, farmers have a system in place to humanely deal with the animals involved.

“We’re pleased to be able to help Ontario’s chicken farmers strengthen their capacity to manage emergencies by supporting this project through the Canadian Agricultural Partnership.”

Perth-Wellington MPP Randy Pettapiece said, “This is great news not only for the over 250 family-run chicken farms in Perth-Wellington, but for chicken, poultry, egg farmers across Ontario.

“Our government is taking steps to strengthen the industry by supporting our farmers if and when emergencies arise.”

Ed Benjamins, chair of Chicken Farmers of Ontario, stated, “Our industry is committed to the highest standards of animal welfare. This innovative, collaborative, industry-led service will strengthen our effective risk management strategies and further enhance animal care.

“We thank Minister Hardeman and Minister Bibeau for this support and partnership as we work together to enhance our emergency response services, and continuously improve biosecurity and animal welfare on our farms and throughout our industry.”

The new program is definitely something that farmers have been  looking for, Benjamins told reporters at E and J. Farms near Moorefield, where the announcement was made.

“There is currently nothing in place,” he stated. “This is about emergencies .. if something disastrous happens then how do you deal with it and look after the animals?”

Benjamins added the program will benefit not only farmers, but the entire sector, including processors and hatcheries.

“From a risk management point of view … we’ve been working on bringing the industry together and so this is going to be something that’s going to benefit the entire industry, not just farmers – so yes, the program’s needed,” he stated.

Hardeman added, “We looked at it and looked at it carefully and said this is a good investment for the whole industry moving forward. So we’re happy to be able to fund it at this level, so when the services are needed they’ll be there.”

The project falls under the Protection and Assurance stream of the CAP, which supports livestock and poultry farmers in Ontario to be competitive, productive and profitable while managing animal health and food safety risk.

The CAP is a five-year, $3-billion commitment by Canada’s federal, provincial and territorial governments that supports Canada’s agri-food and agri-products sectors.