Bird flu outbreak prompts farmers to weigh up insurance needs

The Yorkshire bird flu outbreak could encourage poultry farmers to review their insurance cover.

Defra will compensate growers for any undiseased birds slaughtered under government orders but will not pay for any birds carrying the virus or business losses that follow.

Last week 6,000 ducks were culled at a Cherry Valley duck breeding unit near Driffield, East Yorkshire, after some were found to be infected with a strain of avian influenza.

Insurers estimate a very low percentage of farmers have disease cover for their flocks.

NFU Mutual rural affairs spokesman Tim Price said business income insurance, to make up the losses from a particular event, was more common for poultry farmers due to the fast production cycle.

“Because of the wide variety of poultry rearing systems, business models and scale of operations, it is important for poultry farmers to work closely with their insurers to regularly review their cover to ensure that they have the type and level of cover in place to protect their business,” he said.

Mr Price added that the outbreak demonstrated the need for the poultry sector to maintain robust biosecurity at all times.

Sophie Dunkerley, class underwriter for AEGIS London, said most farmers were not even aware that insurance existed to offer protection against the cost of bird flu.

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