eggs

APHIS proposes changes in bird flu payments

New rates would make payments for virus elimination activities more equitable across facilities.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Animal & Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) is proposing updates to its virus elimination flat rate payments for table egg-laying bird barns and table egg storage and processing facilities affected by highly pathogenic avian influenza (HPAI) or H5 and H7 subtypes of low-pathogenic avian influenza (LPAI).

When a poultry facility becomes infected with HPAI or H5/H7 LPAI, virus elimination is a crucial step in the recovery process. APHIS can provide compensation for virus elimination activities conducted by the owner/producer but must ensure that these activities are both time and cost effective.

This proposed flat rate applies to facilities for pullets or table egg laying birds housed off the floor in cages. The rate for table egg laying birds is based on a cubic-yard basis rather than a per-bird basis, and the rate for table egg storage and processing facilities is based on a square-foot basis. This facility size-based rate would be a change from previous flat rates, which were calculated on a per-bird basis.

Flat rates cover labor, equipment and supplies to clean and disinfect equipment, materials and the interior of barns and facilities. Because dry cleaning followed by heating is, in many cases, the most cost- and time-effective virus elimination method, these activities are used in the calculations. However, to expedite the process, the facility owner may use the method that is most appropriate with approval by APHIS and state animal health officials. The rate assumes that certain materials will be cleaned and disinfected, but APHIS would pay separately the fair depreciation for the age of the material market value for items that cannot be safely or adequately cleaned.

APHIS has already developed a separate flat rate based on a square-foot basis for floor-raised poultry and is working on a separate flat rate for breeder birds to replace the current per-bird flat rate. The new rates would make payments for virus elimination activities more equitable across facilities.

APHIS invites the public to review and comment on the document covering the avian influenza virus elimination flat rate for table egg-laying bird barns and table egg storage and processing facilities. The agency will accept comments until Dec. 3, 2018, at [email protected] After the comment period ends, APHIS will review and consider all comments and issue a final document based on feedback received. View the document here.

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