EU agriculture commissioner Dacian Ciolos has turned down requests from the Cypriot government for compensation for poultry producers in the wake of the outbreak of Newcastle disease which has hit the country.

The notifiable disease, also known as fowl pest, was first detected in early June on a 115,500 bird broiler farm in Lefkosia, close to the Turkish controlled northern part of the island. Almost 30% of the birds died and the remainder were culled.

Since then there have been 12 further outbreaks, leading to a total 61,760 bird deaths and over 190,000 emergency culls.

“For the EU as a whole, these figures may seem negligible, but for a small country like Cyprus they amount to heavy losses that put the sector under a lot of pressure,” farm minister Nicos Kouyialis told fellow ministers in Brussels.

Poultrymeat consumption had dropped nearly 30% and the crisis was also affecting breeding and hatching farms, which had destroyed day-old chicks and were culling breeding flocks early, he claimed.

“It is very likely that a considerable number of producers will cease production,” he said, adding that the country was struggling to meet its 50% share of the cost of containment.

Mr Kouyialis called for additional help, which he said was justified because the disease had actually come in from the Turkish part of the island.

But in response, commissioner Ciolos said that, while the EU was happy to pay its half of the cost of compulsory destruction of flocks, there was not yet a clear case to compensate for market disturbance.

“The figures in our possession do not suggest a fall in prices and, as a consequence, we cannot conclude that there has been a loss of consumer confidence,” he said. There had also been no impact on trade.

Instead, the commissioner called for a more detailed evaluation of the impact of the outbreaks on producers and markets.

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