Ludlow MP calls for financial support for farmers and urgency on bird flu vaccine

A Shropshire MP has called on ministers to do more to support poultry farmers who have been devastated by outbreaks of bird flu in their flocks.

Philip Dunne wearing his badge supporting farmers
Philip Dunne wearing his badge supporting farmers

Ludlow MP Philip Dunne says farmers are able to claim compensation for stock culled as a result of the influenza but they haven't received compensation if the birds die directly because of the virus.

Mr Dunne says farmers in his constituency have been affected by the outbreak which is killing both kept and wild birds in the UK but poses "no food safety risk" for UK consumers and poses "very low risk to public health".

The MP also urged the food minister, Mark Harper, on Tuesday to review regulations around eggs to ensure that free range eggs can continue to be labelled as free-range when farmers are compelled to keep their flocks indoors during the influenza outbreak beyond the normal period permitted under the regulations.

He also encouraged the minister to apply similar urgency to delivery of an effective avian influenza vaccine as that applied to the Covid-19 vaccination during the pandemic.

Food minister Mark Harper agreed that vaccines will be the "route out of the problem" and says discussions are taking place with retailers about whether they are happy to stock vaccinated birds.

Mr Dunne has also shown support for British food and farming on Wednesday on Back British Farming Day, recognising the vital role farmers in South Shropshire play in feeding the nation.

He said: "As a farmer myself and a member of the NFU, I work closely with farmers and growers here in south Shropshire and am pleased to show my recognition for their work by supporting Back British Farming Day. As well as producing high-quality, increasingly sustainable food for the nation, our farmers also maintain and care for our iconic British countryside that we all enjoy.

“Farmers in south Shropshire make a huge contribution to the local economy, providing jobs and, in many cases, developing innovative sustainable farming practices essential to the sector’s long-term sustainability. Farmers nationwide produce renewable energy on their buildings and land, helping to power more than 10 million homes across the country as we work towards net zero.

“Events over the past few years have shown us just how important it is to have a resilient farming sector, producing quality food for both home and abroad while shaping the land around us. That’s why it is so important to recognise the importance of British agriculture and all it delivers to the nation.”

From Monday keepers of birds will have to keep them inside and comply with strict hygiene rules.

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