British Free Range Egg Producers Association secures bird flu costs insurance cover

Hens at a free range egg unit.

Hens at a free range egg unit. - Credit: Archant

Individual members of the British Free Range Egg Producers Association (BFREPA) will be insured for up to £50,000 of secondary cleansing and disinfection costs should they be affected by an outbreak of bird flu.

The Government takes responsibility for the preliminary cleansing and disinfection of any infected site, but the bill for the secondary cleansing and disinfection is borne by the farmer, and this cost could run to as much as £10 a bird.

BFREPA policy director Robert Gooch said: “We take the threat of avian influenza outbreaks extremely seriously and our council of members has voted overwhelmingly in support of the scheme which will begin on December 30.

“Outbreaks in Germany, France and other European countries show how close avian influenza is so we had to move quickly to get this in place. Free range producers, by the very nature of their businesses of having birds free to roam outside, have a heightened risk of an outbreak.

“New members who join will also be included in the scheme as we are committed to protecting the whole sector, not just the producers we have on our books at present.”

The new insurance scheme has been developed by the BFREPA’s insurance partner, Colchester-based broker Scrutton Bland, and will cover up to a total of £1million in claim payments during the policy period.

Ed Nottingham, Scrutton Bland’s head of agriculture insurance, said: “This is an innovative and crucial insurance policy for free range egg producers and we know that this is something that the sector wanted and will really value.”

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Mr Gooch added that BFREPA membership subscriptions may be increased next November to take into account the insurance offering, but said the association would front the total cost of the premium for the first year.

To qualify for cover, members must disclose their correct bird numbers and pay their subscription on time.

Other benefits of membership to BFREPA include top-level industry representation, a monthly copy of The Ranger magazine, practical information and advice, and promotional materials for members to use when talking to the public about free range eggs.

Full details, including the terms and conditions of the insurance package, are available from BFREPA.