Agriculture Ministry director general Yossi Yishai and poultry farmers representative Yaakov Cohen agreed yesterday on the mechanism to compensate farmers for fowl that die of avian flu or are destroyed by veterinary services.

According to the agreement, farmers will get a 50 percent advance on their direct damages within a week of the event. The rest of the compensation will be paid out within 30 days, after farmers present relevant documentation. The sum will be determined according to the criteria in the "Animal Diseases" regulation, and will take into account factors such as the cost of raising the birds and their age.

The ministry and two farmers groups established a joint team yesterday to prepare the compensation for farmers whose farms are under quarantine and who could not transport poultry to slaughterhouses or eggs to market.

Slaughterhouse and hatchery owners will present data to the ministry regarding damages they incur as a result of the outbreak of bird flu in southern Israel. Their compensation will cover indirect damages, and this will be discussed by the director generals committee the cabinet created, which is headed by Yishai.

Cohen called the agreement a first step in compensating poultry farmers for the financial disaster that has befallen them.

Farming organization and poultry farmers are demanding that the cabinet declare the outbreak a "natural disaster in agriculture," which would entitle farmers to compensation for both direct and indirect damages. Damages from the outbreak have been estimated to reach tens of millions of shekels.
 
NIS 2,000 a day to kill chickens 
 
Local authorities in the Sharon region are offering NIS 2,000 a day to anyone willing to work in "putting poultry to sleep," if the avian flu should reach there.

The work is being offered for a period of up to seven days. The birds are "put to sleep" in two stages. First they are starved and deprived of water, and then they are given poisoned water to drink. 

Sources at the Union of Local Authorities and the Agriculture Ministry said the high wages are being offered because of the shortage of workers willing to do the job. He said that Thai workers employed in agriculture had thought about it and then declined, because they were afraid of catching the bird flu.

Interest among Israelis has also been negligible. They said it was urgent to find workers as part of the effort to stop the spread of bird flu into the Sharon Region and the Galilee.

Every prospective worker is required to sign a declaration that he will not sue his employer if he catches the avian flu.

Preference will be given to workers with an agricultural background, and those with experience in working with animals.