Bird Flu Bulgaria grants $5.3m to poultry farmers to check outbreak

The highly pathogenic bird flu virus has spread to 60 poultry farms since mid-December

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Chicken are locked in a poultry farm in Bergentheim, Netherlands on November 10, 2016, following the discovery of bird flu among wild birds in Europe play

Chicken are locked in a poultry farm in Bergentheim, Netherlands on November 10, 2016, following the discovery of bird flu among wild birds in Europe

(ANP/AFP/File)
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Bulgaria is providing 9.7 million levs (5.3 million dollars) to poultry farmers to help contain bird flu outbreak and protect its position as world’s second biggest producer of duck, the government said on Wednesday.

The highly pathogenic bird flu virus has spread to 60 poultry farms since mid-December, prompting veterinary authorities to cull over 450,000 birds, agriculture ministry data showed.

Outbreaks were reported mainly in duck-fattening farms in the southern region of Plovdiv, where some 380,000 ducks had to be culled in a serious blow to output of fattened duck liver in the European Union’s poorest member state.

“We are giving about 10 million levs mainly to farmers whose ducks, geese, chickens and birds had to be culled,” Prime Minister Boiko Borisov told ministers at a cabinet meeting.

“We have taken all measures to limit the negative impact from the infection, and there are no new outbreaks in the past three days.

“Let’s hope we are successful, because Bulgaria is the second biggest exporter of foie gras in Europe,” he said.

Still, the bird flu outbreak is likely to reduce production of foie gras in Bulgaria by 25 per cent to 2,000 tonnes from last year’s 2,700 tonnes, poultry association chief, Dimitar Belorechkov, said.

“We expect affected farms will be able to restart operations in April,” he told media.

Bulgaria became the world’s largest duck foie gras producer after France in recent years.

Hungary is second behind France  in output of fattened goose liver, Belorechkov said.

All the three main foie gras producers have been affected by bird flu outbreaks.

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