Poultry Club of Great Britain Statement – Meeting with DEFRA – 19th April 2017

This morning, Trustees from the Poultry Club of Great Britain (PCGB) met with officials from the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (DEFRA) in order to discuss concerns surrounding current, and potential restrictions relating to avian influenza.

Current ban on poultry gatherings:-

During the meeting the Department officials confirmed that the potential risk associated with lifting the ban on poultry gatherings is under permanent review, and no decision has yet been reached as to when the ban will be lifted.

The PCGB Trustees made strong representations to officials, which included the following:

*The important role that summer shows play in aiding the social side of the fancy.

*Promoting pure breeds of poultry.

*Highlighting that should the ban not be lifted, it could mean that poultry sections at summer shows will not return.

*That Agricultural Societies need sufficient time to make arrangements. It is therefore advisable for all concerned that, to avoid unnecessary damage to protecting pure breeds poultry, the ban on gatherings is lifted as soon as it is deemed responsible to do so.

Possible options until such time as the ban is lifted:-

Various members and clubs had raised concerns regarding the regulations surrounding holding poultry and egg displays, when the birds come from only one premises.

DEFRA officials confirmed that poultry displays are allowed to take place, when the birds being used come from just a single premises. Egg shows can continue as before.

The PCGB would strongly recommend this route until such time as the ban is lifted, both to retain the position of poultry within the running of the country/agricultural show, as well as to continue the promotion of pure breeds of poultry. Should members / show organisers wish for further advice on this then please be in touch.

Could there be further restrictions brought in for the winter months?:-

The PCGB has been made aware of a number of sources saying that the Department intend to impose a ‘winter lockdown’. Raising this with officials, it has been confirmed that this has not been discussed at any point, and is therefore completely false information, as far as the Department is concerned.

Officials instead confirmed that, as previously, a ban on gatherings would only be put in place as the result of actual cases of bird flu in the UK. Even at that stage, the Department would look to exercise flexibility as far as possible.

Trustees of the Club again, on behalf of the membership, highlighted the huge impact that further bans on poultry gatherings, including through the winter months, would have on the protection and promotion of pure breeds of poultry in the UK, also raising the risk associated for local poultry clubs, breed clubs, and associated sectors.

Variations across borders:-

Variations in restrictions between borders (England, Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland) was also discussed.

Currently, Scotland and Wales have a review date of the end of April to reassess protection zones currently in place (not-withstanding the ban on gatherings). In contrast, England’s protection zone is ongoing, with rolling reassessments. It is expected, however, that the decision to lift the ban on gatherings will be taken as a combined GB/UK group, rather than by devolved organisations.

Conclusion:-

The PCGB are pleased to have been able to, in person, inform DEFRA officials as to the impact that the current ban on poultry gatherings is having on our members and the important role that they play in maintaining and promoting pure breeds of poultry.

The Club’s Trustees are confident that these concerns have been properly taken on board by the Department, and will be taken into account when the restrictions on poultry gatherings next come under review.

DEFRA officials have assured us that we will be the first to hear when a division has been reached relating to the ban on gatherings, and we will continue to keep the membership updated.