by PAT CURRIE
No wonder the chicken meat and eggs and turkey meat producers applauded when federal Agriculture Minister Gerry Ritz announced enhanced compensation rates last week for producers whose birds are ordered destroyed as a disease-control measure.
The new rates run as high as $1,200 per chicken and $1,050 for each turkey categorized as a "primary breeder for foundation stock."
These are new categories, but compensation has been doubled or tripled in other, established, categories.
However, the new rates are maximums decreed by the Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) for birds ordered destroyed under the Health of Animals Act, said David Spicer, director of regulations and legislative affairs for the CFIA.
"Those birds will be compensated for based on market value. It’s not likely that the maximum amount will ever be reached," Spicer said, adding that the upper limit was deliberately set high "to allow a cushion so regulations would not have to be changed again in a couple of years."
The top-end compensation rate also recognizes that breeding stock of the best quality also commands top prices and often have to be imported from the United States.
"They are rare birds," Spicer said.
The compensation rates, which come into effect immediately, boosted rates last set in 2006. The 2006 rates were immediately protested by Chicken Farmers of Canada, Turkey Farmers of Canada, Egg Farmers of Canada and the Canadian Hatching Egg Producers as unrealistic. The new rates were agreed on after lengthy discussions during 2009-10 between the CFIA and the four producers’ organizations, Spicer said.
The new maximum rates, per birds, with the old rates in brackets, are:
For egg production:
Laying chickens – $30 ($8), parent breeders $60 ($18), grandparent breeders – $120 ($60).
For meat production:
Broiler chickens – $20 ($8), parent breeders – $60 ($24), grandparent breeders – $100 ($75).
Turkeys for meat production – $70 ($35), parent breeders – $250 ($90), grandparent breeders – $700 ($270).
Peter Clarke, Egg Farmers of Canada chair, said the new compensation figures "better reflect the different market values of an egg-laying hen, a breeder bird and a meat bird."
Grandparent breeding stock is more valuable because the birds are closer to their genetic rootstock, he explained.
Adequate compensation is considered a critical component in both effective disease surveillance and pre-emptive cull programs and would save all partners – governments, the public and industry – the cost of managing a full disease outbreak.
Turkey Farmers of Canada Chair Mark Davies said: "Compensation values that reflect the true market value of a bird are a logical next step in this process." BF