Free-range organic hens© Tim Scrivener

The British Free Range Egg Producers Association (Bfrepa) has agreed to pay for its 500 members to join a new insurance policy to protect them against the cost of avian influenza.

Bfrepa’s council agreed on Tuesday (8 December) to bankroll the scheme for a year, which provides the association with £1m of secondary cleansing and disinfection cover for its members. The pay-out will be limited to £50,000 for any one member.

Robert Gooch, policy director, said there had been overwhelming support for the cover, developed by insurance brokers Scrutton Bland.

See also: Bird flu spreading in Europe

Mr Gooch said council had decided that, as changes to subscriptions could only be made at the association’s annual meeting – which took place at the end of November in Birmingham – the funds would come from its own coffers.

“We felt it was really important, given the situation in France and other parts of Europe, to have this cover in place as soon as possible, so the money will come from Bfrepa core funds.”

The cover will come into operation before Christmas and can be reviewed on a quarterly basis, which might be useful, Mr Gooch said, if for example a new industry levy scheme was introduced during the next 12 months.

Ed Nottingham, Scrutton Bland head of agriculture insurance, said he was thrilled with the decision, adding that he was in talks with a number of other poultry farmers, who were interested in taking additional cover.

“This policy didn’t exist a few weeks ago and some questioned whether it would be possible to do. Bfepa came to us to ask us to sort something out and we are delighted to have been able to help create this innovative policy.”

Meanwhile, the NFU is continuing to discuss options with the NFU Mutual, and the possibility of a chick levy, plus insurance, will be on the table at next week’s pan-industry Poultry Health and Welfare Group meeting (14 December).