By Heather Callaghan
The North Carolina Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services is using the Midwestern poultry avian flu outbreak as an opportunity to decree new requirements for chicken farmers. These newly released rules – in case of a potential event – have prompted small family farms, and backyard chicken owners to wonder how cozy the Ag Commission wants to be – and what happens if a quarantine is declared.
9 WNCT News reports:
All poultry owners are now required to register for an NC Farm ID number, regardless of the number of birds owned.
This ID number will help the department to alert poultry owners about outbreaks.
It’s that word “regardless” that has people talking. Seriously – NCFarmID for one or two chickens? NCFarmID regardless. Some backyard chicken owners already don’t appreciate what they feel is an invasive mandate.
“In planning our response for highly pathogenic avian influenza, one problem we’ve come across is that we can’t protect birds that we don’t know exist,” Meckes said. “We need to know where poultry are located so we can properly protect commercial and backyard flocks.”
Given the government’s previous treatment of backyard gardeners, family farms and chicken owners, with the addition of destructive practices should an outbreak be declared and a general misunderstanding and mistreatment of independent growers – it isn’t too surprising that backyard free-range owners are concerned about getting flagged in a database. If previous abuses like the Rawesome food raid and Morningland Dairy Cheese hadn’t taken place, then maybe people would be happier to help without concerns of targeting and food source destruction.
The Food and Commerce Crimp-Down Continues
Bird sales were already limited earlier this year, but now shows and live bird sales will be cancelled this fall and winter. Individual sales will still be allowed, but sellers – including pet store owners – are prompted to quarantine their chicks for 2-4 weeks to be in compliance with “biosecurity.” More rules are in place for farmers markets.
Additionally, there is a requirement for poultry farmers to submit an HPAI (avian flu) outbreak plan if they have 200 or more birds. That plan submission – required by September, is not required for those a part of the national poultry improvement plan.
The outbreaks were started and spread rapidly among large-scale farms where one can only imagine the conditions. They are devastating, but did you know that free-range backyard chickens have remained mostly untouched by the epidemic?
So doesn’t it seem unnecessary and burdensome to lump free-range owners and family farms in with commercial entities and appear to target them?
And if you still think all of this sounds like no biggie, you are free to sign up for the “Practice Backyard Bird Biosecurity: Learn from the Experts” webinar. All of this sounds so helpful, but the pressure is really on for those who have a couple birds. As egg farmer Alvin Schlangen conveyed to me (Alvin was targeted by local departments and courts three times), when poultry catches avian flu they fall over dead. The domino effect comes from their living condition and having thousands of them bunched up together.
If this doesn’t sit right with you, join the Facebook page “NO to NC Chicken Registration.”
A petition to Agriculture Commissioner Steve Troxler is HERE.