Poultry leaders are to call on the government to pay farmers compensation for losses incurred as a result of outbreaks of avian flu abroad.

Defra is due to host a meeting on Tuesday with representatives from industry bodies in a bid to gauge the likely impact to the poultry industry of an outbreak.

And although the discovery of an infected swan in Scotland this week is likely to dominate discussions, the NFU will seize the opportunity to point out that poultry farmers here have been seriously affected by increased volumes of imported meat from EU countries where demand has been reduced by incidents of the disease. In the past
year, the UK wholesale price of chicken has fallen 31% to 82p/kg, according to Defra.

NFU officials will urge Defra to take up a proposed offer from the European Commission to help fund compensation to offset the effect of the disease on poultry meat and egg sales.

Under the proposal, the EU would co-finance to the tune of 50% the cost of market support measures, with the relevant national government making up the remainder.

If the proposal is adopted by the European Commission at the end of this month, individual member states will be invited to put forward measures best suited to their situation for Commission approval.

Chief poultry adviser Maria Ball said: "We have had fallout from Italy and France. Imports of meat that they can't sell on their markets have been swamping the whole of Europe and have impacted on the market for chicken here."