The Game Farmers' Association
....representing the UK's game farmers & promoting high standards
We have just been alerted by Defra to the confirmation of Low Pathogenic H5 Bird Flu on a poultry unit in mid Suffolk. Click below for the Defra press release and the declaration and map:read more »
If you missed last week's Avian Influenza Readiness Webinar, organised by UK Poultry Health & Welfare Group, or if you would like to listen/watch it again, you can by using the link below:
UK Poultry Health & Welfare Group are delighted to announce that registration for the Avian Influenza Webinar is now open. Taking place from 3pm to 4pm on Wednesday 9 October 2019, this webinar will be filmed and streamed live from London and has been designed to keep everyone aware and thinking about biosecurity. Please note that because the event will be recorded, it can be sent to those who are unable to participate on the day.
So if you want to hear the thoughts of The British Poultry Council, National Farmers Union, British Egg Industry Council ,The British Veterinary Poultry Association and The Game Farmers' Association, then don't forget to register using the link below:
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Whatever you are planning on doing on 9 October from 15.00 - 15.30, don't forget to tune in for a special Webinar on Avaian Influenza (AI) Readiness.
Charles Nodder, the GFA's Media and Political Advisor, together with representatives from other poultry sectors, will be filmed and streamed live from London talking about AI and the need to be prepared for it - whatever type of birds are being kept.
The webinar is only 30 mins long, and we hope to keep everyone aware and thinking about biosecurity.read more »
So if you want to hear the thoughts of The British Poultry Council, National Farmers Union, British Egg Industry Council ,The British Veterinary Poultry Association and The Game Farmers' Association, then don't forget to check back here to find our more. Further details about the event will be circulated in due course.
Read the latest press release below regarding the current situation on general licences.
Genuine progress has been made and three new general licences released by Defra today (14 June 2019) are fit for purpose in most circumstances. However significant work still remains regarding protected sites, the leading countryside organisations have said.
Representing a range of rural stakeholders, the chief executives of BASC and the Countryside Alliance met environment secretary Michael Gove MP this morning to discuss Defra’s new licences.read more »
The new licences cover the majority of activity which is undertaken in the English countryside for pest control, crop protection and also satisfy the need to provide control to protect public health.
However, the organisations have told Defra they cannot agree the approach to “protected sites”, home to much of our most important wildlife, where there will be additional licence requirements. This will be captured by a further Defra consultation this summer.
BASC chief executive Ian Bell said: “The organisations have worked extensively in the background with Defra and we are content that the new, additional general licences issued today will be fit for purpose in many areas but significant concerns remain around protected sites.
“We appreciate that it’s not a perfect situation and there may still be some confusion; the organisations will continue to be on hand to steer our members through. The organisations have told Defra that we expect any gaps to picked up by the consultation in the summer.”
Countryside Alliance chief executive Tim Bonner said: “Whilst we remain very concerned about the initial decision by Natural England to revoke the general licences we are grateful for the Secretary of State’s intervention.
“Since Defra has taken back control of the licences we have seen significant progress and for most people managing most species the situation is now back as it was. The discussion does not, however, stop here and we will seek to resolve the outstanding issues as part of the planned consultation later this year.”
Liam Bell, NGO chairman, said: "Two cheers to Defra for sorting out most of the mess left after NE's licence revocations in April. We reserve our third cheer until they have also addressed the remaining issues in protected sites. The team-working between the shooting organisations has been great on this and a big reason for the turnarounds gained so far. We look forward to playing our part in finishing the job."
Amanda Anderson, director of the Moorland Association, said: “European designated sites will not be covered by these new general licences. If owners or occupiers have not yet applied for an individual licence to carry out vital work to protect chicks, they should.
“We have made the point forcefully to Defra that it is almost beyond belief that precious areas that support incredible bird life are being left out, areas that have been designated for their important birds and habitats. Pest bird control, certainly in the uplands, has been a contributing factor to their success.
“Making conservation in these areas harder to achieve is a disaster for our wildlife. Defra's precautionary approach and EU rules could preside over the extinction of our best loved moorland birds like the curlew, lapwing, golden plover, if a way forward cannot be found.”
Country Land and Business Association (CLA) president, Tim Breitmeyer said: “We are pleased that progress has been made and that the concerns of rural groups have been taken on board. We will keep working collaboratively with Defra and others to help resolve any outstanding issues.
“This includes engaging with the future consultation this summer, ensuring the emergence of a robust and fit-for-purpose licensing system which protects the interests of farming and food production, as well as the conservation of wildlife.”
Game Farmers' Association chairman Dominic Boulton said: "This is good news. Our members will now be able to get back to business and control problem birds as before. Livelihoods had been threatened by NE's revocations but the situation is now much improved."
Sir Jim Paice, GWCT chairman, said: “We must congratulate Defra for producing these new licences so quickly under difficult circumstances. They may not be perfect, but it is clear they carefully considered all 4,000 consultation responses which provided them with the information they needed to reach this stage. The GWCT will continue to work closely with Defra to share our science to ensure those that manage our countryside have the right tools to do the job.”
Defra has forced a shooting licence U-Turn after taking over from Natural England following a fiasco in which farmers were banned from protecting their land from pests.
Read the article which appeared in the Telegraph on Friday 14 June. A great quote from our Chairman, as well as Tim Bonner, the chief executive of The Countryside Alliance.
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The Game Farmers' Association is advising all members that Natural England (NE) is revoking the three main General Licences for the control throughout England of birds such as crows, magpies and woodpigeons.
The shock decision, which applies from one minute to midnight on Thursday 25 April 2019, was announced with no prior warning and at less than 48 hours notice. It has been greeted with anger and derision by the shooting community and its representative organisations.read more »
Game farmers often control corvids around their laying pens and rearing fields in the spring but once the licences are revoked, that essential protection will become illegal.
NE says that it will introduce a new replacement online system for applying for individual licences, under which some control may still be lawful, but as of now no such system is in place. It is hard to see that it could possibly replace, at speed, the daily use of the General Licences by thousands of farmers, gamekeepers and pest controllers.
GFA Chairman, Dominic Boulton, said it was a disgrace that NE was effectively changing the law at no notice, apparently panicked into an over-reaction by a legal challenge mounted by anti shooting campaigners. (No equivalent revocations have been made in Scotland and Wales, despite their General Licences having exactly the same legal basis).
"We had no more notice of this fiasco than anyone else," said Dominic. "It is exactly the sort of shambles that game farmers could do without at this critical time of year when they are trying to protect eggs and chicks from predation by corvids."
The shooting organisations are working together to get the decision reversed or a workable replacement licensing system in place as soon as possible.
The British Veterinary Poultry Association (BVPA) working group has now agreed its recommendations on Mycoplasma management in gamebirds – please click on the link below to read the recommendations.