New poultry regulations exclude backyard, hobby flock

VIRGINIA - While new regulations governing all aspects of the live bird marketing system in Virginia went into effect this fall, owners of backyard and hobby flocks are exempt.
calendar icon 22 December 2006
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Similar biosecurity regulations already govern commercial poultry flocks.

The new regulations require anyone in Virginia who raises or distributes birds to a live bird market and anyone who runs a live bird market in Virginia to be licensed by the Virginia Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services. The regulations were created to further protect the state’s turkey and chicken populations against avian influenza.

While poultry growers in surrounding states participate in live bird markets, “we are unaware of any participation in Virginia at this time,” said Tony Banks, commodity and marketing specialist for Virginia Farm Bureau Federation. “But that could change, and it was important to have the regulations in place now.”

Avian flu outbreaks historically have resulted in flocks of turkeys and chickens being destroyed to keep the virus from spreading. Previous outbreaks in Virginia have been tied to the live bird markets in Northeastern states.

In the event of an outbreak, “not having regulations related to live bird markets would result in Virginia growers being ineligible for federal funding to help cover their losses,” said Buckingham County broiler grower Henry Wood, who chairs the VFBF Poultry Advisory Committee. A massive avian flu outbreak in 2002 cost growers and processors between $130 million and $140 million.

Source: Virginia Farm Bureau

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