Fianna Fáil Seanad Spokesperson on Agriculture Paul Daly says the Minister for Agriculture Michael Creed needs to explain in detail the impact of emergency regulations he has put in place to tackle Avian influenza.

Senator Daly made the comments in the Seanad today and outlined that many poultry farmers are at risk of losing their free range status due to a compulsory order put in place by the Minister last December. The compulsory order requires all poultry to be housed day and night.

Senator Daly said, “Everyone is in agreement that steps need to be taken to tackle Avian influenza which threatens farmer’s right across the country. Five cases of influenza have been confirmed in Ireland with many more appearing right across Europe.

“Last December Minister Creed issued a compulsory directive requiring farmers to indefinitely house their poultry to tackle the outbreak of Avian influenza. However many poultry farmers have been left in the dark as to how this directive will impact on their free range status.

“Currently free range producers have to ensure that their poultry are not housed for a continuous period of 12 weeks or more in order to maintain their free range status. These producers have serious concerns that they could lose their free range status if the compulsory directive remains in place.

“The Minister needs to immediately clarify the situation and ensure free range producers do not lose their status simply because they complied with a compulsory directive. This is an urgent matter as we are approaching the 12 week mark since the compulsory directive was introduced by the Minister.

“The poultry sector is an important part of our agriculture sector. I welcome the fact that the Government is taking steps to protect the sector, but the concerns raised by free range poultry producers must be urgently addressed. Failure to do so will undermine the operation of the restrictions and will ultimately impact on our fight against Avian influenza.”