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Avian Flu Update - 13 Dec...
Author: Peter BryantTitle: Avian Flu Update - 13 Dec
Date: 2005-12-13 11:25:10Uploaded by: webmaster
What a frustrating week it has been! After the meeting at DEFRA on 5th December I really did believe that we would have a resolution on what DEFRA was planning with regard to shows, sales and racing. Unfortunately the wheels of power have turned very slowly and so the decision that we were expecting to be announced is yet to happen. To add a little more confusion to the issue when I got in to work on Monday 12th December there was an e mail with a calling notice for a meeting at DEFRA later that day to be conducted by telephone conference. The stakeholders invited to the meeting were much wider than those attending the meeting on the 5th, with poultry breeders, NFU, aviculture, parrot breeders etc invited. From the pigeon organisations came the WHPU, NWHU, IHU, NEHU, NPA and the RPRA. Sadly it appeared to be ground that we had been over only a week previously which left the pigeon representatives rather frustrated as we believed that a decision was pending and due to be announced. The long and the short of it is that the discussions at this meeting were to be put forward to a DEFRA policy team who would seek clearance from the DEFRA minister to allow shows, sales and races to take place under a general licence. I cannot be anymore specific than that because the DEFRA policy team may change some of this veterinary advice before it gets to the Minister. So, while I am optimistic that this will come, DEFRA are unable to give us a timescale. We were particularly frustrated also to hear at the beginning of the meeting from Colin Surtees that Belgium had relaxed their restrictions and apparently are to have no restrictions on pigeon activities while the threat from AI is so low. This begged the question that, although all European countries are supposed to be working under the same directive, individual countries have implemented different guidelines and directives themselves. Surely, if we are all in Europe (and particularly within Western Europe) with a low risk of AI, then we should be working on the same level.

So, where does that leave us for shows and sales? Well as far as Blackpool is concerned we should, and I stress should, get clearance for sales at the show. However, this is dependent on there being no change in the threat assessment. If there is any outbreak of AI then restrictions will be introduced. So I am asking all of you to have some patience and bear with us as we await confirmation of positive news. In the meantime we will be planning for a normal Blackpool show and trade stand holders and show entrants should plan to act as normal. It would help if trade stand holders could e mail Karen James their e mail address or fax number so that you can be contacted at short notice Ė just in case. Please e mail strays@rpra.org or fax 01452 875119.

I have been impressed by the co-operation and passion that my pigeon organisation colleagues have expressed at the DEFRA meetings, they are doing a great job on your behalf, whichever Union you fly with. Perhaps a special word should be made of Eddie Lyons of the WHPU who attended the meeting on 5th December. As you may know, Eddie is not a well chap at the moment but he was determined to attend the meeting with Glyn Picton and his attendance was a real feather in his cap in putting forward the view of his members despite clearly being unwell

There is also an issue for RPRA members in Northern Ireland. It appears that the DEFRA website is asking poultry keepers to register any holding with 50 birds or more. Only pigeons bred for food purposes need to be registered at this stage. However DARDNI, the DEFRA equivalent in Ulster, is insisting on all racing pigeon owners to register. Apparently this is required in Eire and DARDNI feel that as far as Ireland is concerned they want to treat the island as one and have a consistent policy throughout Ireland/Ulster. Again is this yet another example of not having a level playing field throughout Europe?

Rumours, rumours rumours. Where would some of you be without them? I received an e mail on Monday asking me if there was any truth in the story that a DEFRA licence was to cost £95 and that organisations would have to pay for a vet to be in attendance at marking nights. Well I can say here and now that this story is absolute rubbish. If we are allowed to race then the licence in fact will be posted on the DEFRA website and all it will say is something like ĎRacing pigeon organisations are authorised to race by DEFRA subject to conditions being metí. One of those conditions is likely to be that a vet must be on call. If the vet is called out then of course clubs will have to pay for the service but, as with the licences now for shows under the current restrictions, a vet has to be named in case of a problem. I have completed a licence application for the Blackpool show and have had to name a local vet but I do not expect to call her out unless there is an absolute crisis.

Iím sorry that this may be as clear as mud. We are getting there, of that I am sure, itís just that we seem to be taking 3 steps forward and 2 back again.

Watch this space.

Peter Bryant
General Manager
The Royal Pigeon Racing Association
The Reddings
Nr Cheltenham, Glos GL51 6RN
Tel 01452 713529 Fax 857119

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