Avian flu: the sectors on the eve of a big bang?

The project is contained in action sheet no. 7 of the action plan unveiled by the Ministry of Agriculture on July 29, under the following title: “Initiate a medium and long-term reflection on the adaptation and transformation production sectors with a central objective: to build the breeding of tomorrow”. Otherwise, it is a question of opening the site of the control of the densities of breeding, the protection of the sensitive sites (reception selection) and to reinvent economic models. After four epizootics in seven years, including the last paroxysmal (1,378 outbreaks in farms, 19.3 million poultry slaughtered, 1.1 billion euros in health and economic compensation), this is the first time that the subject of Densities are now included in the control strategy at the national level. The Southwest had sketched it in fat ducks last fall, especially in Chalosse (Landes).

A double vulnerability

Due to the recurrence and virulence of epizootics, the sectors are forced into this update. According to ANSES, the disease could now manifest itself through reintroductions at the origin of recurrent epizootics, or even evaluated in endemization with a possible viral implantation within the local non-migratory avifauna. The fact is that two cases were detected on July 29 and 30, respectively in the Manche and Somme farms. The 2021-2022 epizootic has also confirmed ANSES’s hypothesis that livestock density is one of the factors in the spread of the virus. By attacking the Pays de la Loire, the virus also pointed to another vulnerability, that of the selection-reception link, this region (with the Deux-Sèvres) contributing to it up to 55%, in addition to representing 25% of national poultry production, both in volume and in value.

The “Adour” plan as a guinea pig

The project to control stocking densities is courageous because it brings a big bang for the sectors concerned (meat, eggs, foie gras), with potentially very strong socio-economic impacts for all links in the chain. , the stockbreeders being of course in the first line. At a time when chicken consumption is increasing, and with them imports, reflection cannot hide the question of competitiveness, already quite plucked, especially in standard chicken, as the 2026 horizon looms charges from the European Chicken Commitment (ECC).

But in the balance, there is also a public health issue here, since avian influenza is not exempt from zoonotic risk, as ANSES points out, not to mention the disastrous fate of millions of animals and the ordeal suffered by breeders, operators and State agents during euthanasia and preventive depopulation.

The feedback from the dedensification scheduled for next winter in the South-West through the “Adour” plan (crawl space from December 15 to January 15 in 68 municipalities, compensation extended to 270 days) will be for those likely to be rich in lessons, while the plan is already heightening tensions between the parties concerned, the Confédération paysanne and the Modef denouncing injustices in terms of compensation. The conclusions of the reflection on densities at the national level are expected for the first half of 2023. By this deadline, the vaccination experiment on waterfowl should also have delivered its verdict. Let’s cross the palms.

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