The United States, Canada and Mexico and their respective poultry and egg industries have entered into an arrangement to enhance collaboration on avian influenza and to work toward harmonising procedures for responding to possible future detections of the virus.
In a historic government-industry collaboration, animal health authorities from the 3 countries, together with the heads of trade associations that represent the poultry and egg industries, signed a Letter of Understanding (LOU) on avian influenza during a ceremony in Los Cabos.
"Lion's share of poultry trade"
"Mexico and Canada represent the lion's share of our poultry and egg trade," said Jim Sumner, president of the USA Poultry & Egg Export Council (USAPEEC). "Together, these 2 markets account for more than two-thirds of all US turkey exports, nearly two-thirds of our egg trade, and a third of our broiler exports – an annual value of almost $2 billion. That's about one-third of the value of all US poultry and egg exports in any given year."
The LOU recognises that the spread of AI by migratory birds is perhaps one of greatest challenges facing the global poultry industry, and that it is incumbent on the partners in the North American Free Trade Agreement to harmonise their methods for dealing with AI to keep their poultry production systems safe and sustainable, and to minimise trade disruptions that can result from AI detections in commercial poultry.
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With an avian influenza virus strongly embedded in the world's wild bird population, mutated from known prevalent subtypes into strains that caused havoc in poultry production during the spring bird migration, every countermeasure that exists is of great value to the industry.
Scientific discussions on AI
The arrangement also creates a tripartite working group comprised of government animal health officials and industry representatives from the 3 countries that will serve as a forum for regular scientific discussions on AI and which will also consider any recommendations involving AI made by the World Organization for Animal Health (OIE).
The signing ceremony is the culmination of discussions that began in late 2014 in Washington, DC, between USAPEEC and the Union Nacional de Avicultores (UNA), trade organisations that represent the interests of the poultry industries in the United States and Mexico.
Minimising impact on poultry trade
"The relationships that exist between our industries and governments in these 3 countries are unsurpassed, and we're pleased to participate in signing a document that formally links our governments and industries in an unprecedented manner," Sumner said.
"We're hopeful that this agreement will be an important tool to provide our industries with an adequate level of protection from poultry diseases while minimising any impact on trade. We also hope this will set a precedent for other governments and countries around the world to follow," Sumner concluded.