The Quebec government has granted $800,000 to the Équipe Québécoise de contrôle de maladies avicoles (EQCMA) to increase the industry’s response capacity to highly pathogenic avian influenza (HPAI) this spring.
“This investment will allow us to be better prepared and more agile in the event of future avian flu outbreaks,” said André Lamontagne, the minister of Agriculture, fisheries and food. In a press release, the minister praised the different players in the poultry industry for their work in terms of prevention, while acknowledging the important contributions made by the Quebec poultry disease control team.
This financial assistance will be used to implement technological and logistical solutions to better protect poultry flocks and minimize the impact of this disease on supply chains. More specifically, funds will go towards updating biosecurity protocols and training for producers and industry partners, the development of new technologies to rapidly remove birds from affected farms and the purchasing of equipment, and the development of field expertise in building cleaning and disinfection. Investments will also be made in terms of hiring staff to carry out EQCMA mandates, including those related to field activities in the event of outbreaks.
According to the Canada Food Inspection Agency, new avian flu outbreaks were confirmed in the MRC des Maskoutains, Sherbrooke, and the MRC de Rouville since the start of April. Cases were also confirmed in the MRC du Haut-Saint-Laurent and the MRC de Beauharnois-Salaberry in February. The primary control zones established as a result of these outbreaks in the area remain in place, to limit and track the movement of birds and bird by-products through the region.
The Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food has also announced new initiatives to better support small-scale poultry operations. These include the creation of an identification registry for small-scale farms, biosecurity training for backyard breeders and small-scale farms, and the production of a best practices guide for building coops or henhouses in collaboration with the Centre de référence en agriculture et agroalimentaire du Québec. (SR)