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Formal meeting (oral evidence session): Avian Influenza

Environment, Food and Rural Affairs Committee
Avian Influenza

Tuesday 29 November 2022

Start times: 2.00pm (private) 2.30pm (public)

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MPs probe as ‘worst ever’ bird flu hits farmers and Christmas fare

The Environment, Food and Rural Affairs Committee holds a hearing into the country’s largest ever outbreak of bird flu.  

The highly contagious disease, which affects wild birds as well as poultry, is impacting the supply of turkeys for the Christmas trade as infected birds die or are culled to prevent further spread of the disease. There have also been reports of egg shortages and egg rationing in supermarkets, due to the combined effects of avian flu and soaring costs facing farmers.

Meeting details

At 2.00pm: Private discussion
Work Avian Influenza (Non-inquiry session)
At 2.30pm: Oral evidence
Work Avian Influenza (Non-inquiry session)
Chief Executive at British Poultry Council
Director of Science at British Trust For Ornithology (BTO)
Poultry Farmer at Kelly Turkeys
At 3.30pm: Oral evidence
Work Avian Influenza (Non-inquiry session)
Chief Veterinary Officer at Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs
Chief Executive at Animal Plant Health Agency

The committee will ask poultry farmers and experts, as well as government agencies dealing with the situation, why this outbreak in the UK has been so serious and prolonged, compared with previous years, since it first emerged in October 2021. 

Poultry farmers are required to keep their flocks indoors (known as a ‘housing order’) to prevent infection from wild birds. MPs are expected to ask how farmers might be compensated by the government for the hit to their livelihoods and the implications of the housing order on ‘free range’ rearing. They may also have questions about the ‘freeze and thaw’ scheme which allows turkeys to be culled in advance for the Christmas trade.  

There have also been large scale deaths among wild bird populations. Last winter, for example, saw over 16,000 Barnacle Geese die on Scotland’s Solway Firth – a third of the entire breeding population of this species in the area.  

The government has said the disease is now endemic amongst wild birds, which may have implication for how the disease is managed in the future.


Room 6, Palace of Westminster

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