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Md. begins mandatory poultry, bird registration

April 18, 2006

ANNAPOLIS - Poultry diseases like exotic Newcastle disease and avian influenza know no state lines or neighbors' fences. These diseases also do not know the difference between a commercial flock and a backyard flock.

Preventing and being able to contain diseases like these are so important that Maryland adopted a law last year, requiring domestic poultry and exotic bird premises to be registered with the state.

Now, the state Department of Agriculture has announced its new Domestic Poultry and Exotic Bird premises registration program.

"Poultry is Maryland's number one agricultural commodity involving more than 2,500 farm families and 14,000 poultry company employees on Delmarva," said Agriculture Secretary Lewis R. Riley.

"The registration program is designed to protect all the poultry and bird industries in the state - from commercial, to agri-tourism, to backyard flocks. In the event of any avian disease outbreak, a rapid response is essential in preventing the spread of disease and the loss of family income."

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The law requiring registration also protects the identity of a producer. Riley said registration information will be filed him and he will protect the identity unless after consultation with the Secretary of Health and Mental Hygiene, he determines that disclosure is necessary to protect the public health or prevent the spread of an infectious or contagious disease.

The registration process will take place in three phases. First, backyard flocks, including fair and show birds, will be registered. Then, certain categories of exotic and pet birds will be registered. Commerical flocks will be registered in the third phase.

MDA has access to equivalent registration information for commercial flocks and flocks registered with other MDA egg and poultry health programs, which will be converted to official registration as the program moves forward, the agency said in a press release.

Maryland's mandatory registration program is different and separate from the voluntary NAIS program.

For more information on both the Maryland and the NAIS programs, contact Marilyn Bassford at MDA at 1-410-742-6023 or bassfoml@mda.state.md.us

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