Bird flu compensation inadequate in Israel

09-08-2006 | |

An Israeli inter-ministerial committee decision that grants an estimated 7 million Israeli shekels (US$800,000) to poultry farmers for indirect damages caused by the outbreak of avian influenza in March is not enough, poultry farmers said.

“The State of Israel is abandoning the farmers who faced damages after cooperating [with the authorities] in order to eradicate the disease,” said Poultry Farmers Association secretary Yaakov Cohen. “Farmers deserve compensation, not ‘support’ given to them as an act of charity,” he said in response to the wording of the decision.

The government’s method of calculating compensation “is wrong and causes utmost damage to the farmers,” he added, noting, for instance, that the committee decided to pay only half the cost of destroying chicks and eggs in the hatcheries over a three-week period. Compensation should also be given on the full period of forced closure of the sector and the months during which they could not export their produce, Cohen argued.

Estimating the amount needed to cover indirect damages at “tens of millions of shekels,” Cohen stressed that the poultry farmers’ argument with the government is based on the principles of the compensation arrangement and that the full figure would not be known until every farmer submits individual numbers.

The Agriculture Ministry has said the estimated 7 million Israeli shekels included 3.5 million for interruptions to raising and marketing operations of 85 growers in 70 communities; 1.5 million for the destruction of chicken feed and sensitive parts of the coups; and 2 million to cover 50 percent of the damage to hatcheries. 20 million shekels has already been paid to poultry farmers to compensate for the direct damage caused by the culling of 1.2 million birds.

The European Union is only now allowing farmers to begin selling unprocessed chicken products, as a six-month period has passed without new incidence of bird flu, the ministry said.

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