Next night, the shield and raising light will be revoked in all regions where it still applies. This means that organic and free-range chickens are allowed to go outside the Netherlands for the first time since last autumn.
The nationwide shield and raising duty was announced on October 22 due to an outbreak of avian flu. Initially wild birds were affected, but when the virus appeared on poultry farms, Minister Schouten seized.
Since contamination has not been detected for some time, the accumulated duty was withdrawn in seven regions last month. That‘s where things have been going well since then, Schouten notes, and that’s why the remaining thirteen regions are now in turn.
The demissionary minister points out that the number of infections is decline not only in the Netherlands, but also in other EU countries. She considers it justified to lift the accumulating duty “given the lower veterinary risk assessment, animal welfare aspects and the financial situation for poultry farmers,” she writes in a Chamber Letter.
Keep covering litter
According to Schouten, the withdrawal of the measure “in no way means that the risk of infection is now negligible”. She stresses that the reduced risk estimates are highly uncertain: experts do not rule out the virus being around wild birds.
This is partly why a number of other measures remain in force. For example, poultry farmers still have to adhere to stricter hygiene rules and tightened criteria to report suspicion of avian flu. Furthermore, duck farms must continue to cover litter.