Following the surge of the avian flu over the last year and the latest case detected in Nova Scotia this week, farmers in Nova Scotia are looking to the Houston government to follow the lead of the other Atlantic provinces to fund the development of a testing lab in the province.
Farmers continue to feel the economic effects and additional burden on resources of the avian flu outbreak, which began in February 2022. If an animal is suspected to have the illness there is an intensive process that follows to keep animals and surrounding farms safe. The current system involves sending samples out-of-province, sometimes as far as Guelph, Ontario or Winnipeg, Manitoba, resulting in long wait times for results and greater disruptions to farm operations.
“It adds unneeded stress and financial strain on these farmers,” says Thom Oulton, Vice- Chair of the Chicken Farmers of Nova Scotia. “We are the only province in Atlantic Canada that hasn’t stepped up to bring in this service to support farmers. Poultry is a growing industry for Nova Scotia and the government should be taking steps like this to bolster its success.”
New Brunswick had their Fredericton lab certified last year. Newfoundland and PEI have plans to ensure their own testing capacity. The introduction of a lab in Nova Scotia would mean a quicker turnaround for diagnosis and any safety protocols to follow. The proposed facility will also assist in managing other foreign animal diseases that could impact locally farmed animals in the province.
“Nova Scotia already has an animal health lab in Truro. We need to expand its mandate and operations to address the urgent concerns about avian flu,” said Keith Irving, the Agriculture Shadow Minister and Liberal MLA for Kings South. “We produce the most poultry in the Atlantic provinces, but we are not seeing proactive actions and investments by the government to protect this important sector of our rural economy
and finally deal with this issue.”