WASHINGTON — The USDA’s Animal Plant and Health Inspection Service (APHIS) is proposing updates to its virus elimination flat rate payments for floor-raised meat poultry facilities affected by notifiable avian influenza (AI), which means any avian influenza with high pathogenicity (HPAI) and by H5 and H7 subtypes with low pathogenicity (H5/H7 LPAI).
When a poultry facility becomes infected with notifiable AI, virus elimination is a crucial step in the recovery process. APHIS provides reimbursement for virus elimination activities conducted by the owner/producer, but must ensure that these activities are both time- and cost-effective.
APHIS would provide a single virus elimination flat rate for all floor-raised meat poultry facilities. The rate is calculated based on the square footage of the facility and covers labor, equipment and supplies to clean and disinfect equipment, materials and the interior of barns. Because the use of dry cleaning followed by heating is in many cases the most cost- and time-effective virus elimination method, these activities are used in the calculations.
However, the barn owner may use the method that is most appropriate, as approved by State Animal Health Officials and APHIS, to expedite the process. The rate assumes certain materials will be cleaned and disinfected, but APHIS would pay separately for materials that cannot be safely or adequately cleaned, providing the fair market value of disposed items.
This would be a change from previous flat rates, which were calculated on a per-bird basis. After a thorough review, APHIS moved to a per-square foot basis for flat rates in order to make the process more cost-effective and reduce the impact to taxpayers.
APHIS is working on separate flat rates to address caged layers, breeder birds and ground birds (layers or housed). The new rates would make payments for virus elimination activities more equitable across facilities.
More information can be obtained at www.aphis.usda.org.