The Italian farmers’ confederation, Confagricoltura, asked banks on Monday for help to support breeders who have had to cull 18 million poultry to stop a bird flu epidemic.
To date, 308 outbreaks have been identified, mostly on large farms in Lombardy and Veneto, in the north of the country.
The italian farms they are the most affected in Europe, compared to the 167 outbreaks reported in France, 111 in Hungary, 77 in Poland and 51 in Germany, according to the Institute of Experimental Zooprophylaxis of Veneto.
Italy has already almost stopped the epizootic (disease that reigns temporarily in a region), explained the institute, which has registered only a dozen new outbreaks throughout the territory so far this year. However, the economic damage is significant.
Italian breeders they have had to slaughter 18 million animals since the beginning of the epidemic, in mid-October, mostly turkeys, but also laying hens.
“The economic and financial situation of many farms is unsustainable. The poultry sector is going through an extremely critical period,” Confagricoltura leader Massimiliano Giansanti warned in a statement.
The entity ask banks to suspend loans that are about to expire and that the conditions of the outstanding loans be reviewed.
For its part, the government has promised European funds to compensate breeders “harmed by restrictions on the movement of animals and eggs” in recent months, which has slowed production and interrupted exports.
Italian poultry farming has 18,000 farms, including 6,000 professionals, and employs 38,000 people. In 2021, its turnover was 4.1 billion euros ($4.6 billion).