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B.C. avian flu outbreak might not jeopardize Christmas dinners

Turkeys from Alberta and Manitoba could be brought in

By Diego Flammini,

With nearly half the province of British Columbia designated as a “control zone” to stop the spread of the H5N2 strain of the avian flu that will eventually see over 140,000 chickens and turkeys destroyed, the impact could be seen across dinner tables come Christmas time - but not likely.

The virus, that’s been confirmed at five farms within the Fraser Valley, will cause approximately 25,000 turkeys meant for Christmas to be lost but a shortage is unlikely.

“The number of birds being euthanized that would have made it for Christmas is probably only 1% of those produced,” said Phil Boyd, Executive Director of Turkey Farmers of Canada. “With some rescheduling of birds and transportation, there shouldn’t be any shortage.

General Manager of B.C Turkey Farmers Michel Benoit said precautions are being taken to try and have enough turkeys available for families who want one around the holidays.

“We’re optimistic that shortage will be filled by product coming from Alberta, maybe as far as Manitoba.”

While there may not be an impact on the dinner table, the loss of revenue is something that can’t be disputed.

The most recent data from Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada shows turkeys sell for an average price of $4.05 per kilogram. If each of the nearly 25,000 turkeys set to be euthanized weigh an average of 10kg that results in approximately $1,012,500 in lost product.

Boyd said they’ve been in contact with their provincial members and the Canadian Food Inspection Agency in Ottawa on a regular basis and said the farms in B.C are adjusting as best they can.

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