The level of risk associated with bird flu, avian flu, will increase on Sunday from “negligible” to “moderate” in France. Farmers will therefore have to house the birds in risk areas and test them if an outbreak is detected within 20 kilometers of their farm.
“Two weeks ago, we saw a deterioration in the situation” that has improved in recent months, argued Friday at the Ministry of Agriculture. Health authorities detected 18 outbreaks in livestock in 11 departments: Somme, Seine-Maritime, Meuse, Indre-et-Loire, Ain, Sarthe, Manche, Ille-et-Vilaine, Morbihan, Maine-et-Loire and Loire-Atlantique .
“There is really a desire not to reproduce last year’s crisis”, underlines the ministry. This bird flu episode of unprecedented magnitude led to the culling of 16 million birds from November 2021 to June 2022, including 11 million in the Great West, with a total of 1,378 farms affected by the virus.
The risk level was lowered on June 7 to “negligible”, but outbreaks have since emerged. Hundreds of wild birds have also been found dead since the start of summer on the west coast, infected with bird flu.
As the “risk period” of wild bird migration approaches, it was therefore “decided to increase the risk level from “negligible” to “moderate” throughout France” from Sunday, a decree to be published Saturday in the Official Gazette, explains the ministry.
Concretely, measures will have to be taken, such as housing birds in risk areas – wetlands located in the migration corridors of wild birds –, banning “bird gatherings” in these areas, such as racing pigeons, or mandatory vaccination in zoos to birds that cannot be confined or protected by nets. Hunting remains authorized “but under conditions”, the ministry specifies.
Lower compensation in case of non-compliance with the measures
“Compared with previous years, we want to go further to avoid an epidemic peak at all costs”, he underlines. Farmers will have to carry out tests, at their own expense, once a week and before any animal transport, if their farm is located between 0 and 20 km from an outbreak.
Controls will be carried out with the consequent reduction of compensation in the event of non-compliance with these measures. The measures were taken in consultation with professionals, underlines the ministry. But the Peasant Confederation and the Movement for the Defense of Family Farmers (Modef) “disassociated themselves from the roadmap” of the government.
“The bird flu episode last year showed us that outdoor farming is not responsible for the epidemic”, criticize these two agricultural unions. However, “once again, banning the outdoors is the only solution found by the Ministry of Agriculture to make people believe that it is trying to stop an epidemic of avian flu that has become uncontrollable”, they add.
According to them, “no measure is in place to act on the main factors of propagation of the virus”, namely “the densities in the specialized breeding areas” or even “the multiplicity of transport of animals and personnel, which are responsible for the the gradual spread of avian influenza”.
The Confédération paysanne and Modef say they are “mobilized” against “these absurd regulations”, with fear: “the disappearance of our profession of outdoor creators”. “It is not a total confinement of the animals”, assures the ministry, however, “the shelter conditions were adapted according to the production methods. »