Dutch farmers shun bird flu vaccination for now
Many Dutch farmers are choosing to wait rather than vaccinate poultry now against bird flu because they fear a negative effect on exports, industry groups said this week.
The Netherlands launched preventive vaccination on Thursday 16 March for its 1-3 million backyard poultry and about 5 million free-range poultry against the highly pathogenic H5N1 avian flu virus after receiving EU permission on Feb. 22.
But the Dutch poultry farmers organisation said most farmers have not started vaccinating because the biggest importer of Dutch poultry, Germany, refuses to buy meat and eggs from vaccinated animals as consumers fear possible health risk.
Some 70% of all Dutch poultry exports go to Germany. The Netherlands is a top world poultry exporter with annual sales of 1.5 billion euros ($1.82 billion) and Europe’s second biggest producer after France.
Some of the 130 Dutch organic poultry farmers are also holding off vaccination for now because of export worries. “When we see that consumers in Germany want our eggs then farmers will start vaccinating massively,” organic poultry farmers spokesman Christian Borren said.
Dutch farmers are also worried that more countries outside the European Union will follow Japan’s decision to ban Dutch poultry imports after the vaccination started. The Netherlands main poultry export markets are Germany, Britain, Belgium, France, Ukraine, Japan, Poland and Russia.