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Aleutian disease funds in for Nfld. ranchers

Mink ranchers in Newfoundland and Labrador can now apply for funding to improve on-farm biosecurity under a provincial Aleutian disease management program.

“Under this program, eligible operators can access up to $200,000 to implement biosecurity measures to manage and/or protect against Aleutian disease,” said Kathy Dunderdale, minister for the provincial Forestry and Agrifoods Agency, in a release Friday.

Details of the $5.4 million program, including an application form, are now available online. The application deadline is Oct. 31.

The program funds up to 75 per cent of eligible costs, to a maximum of $100,000 for new industry entrants or ranchers with gross farm sales below $25,000. Ranchers with gross farm sales of up to $250,000 can get up to $150,000 in funds, while those with over $250,000 gross farm sales can access up to the full $200,000.

“This program helps all our mink farms, including those already affected by the disease and those that have managed to remain Aleutian disease-free,” Dunderdale said. Expenses eligible for compensation must have been incurred after April 1 this year.

Catherine Moores, president of the Newfoundland and Labrador Fur Breeders’ Association, said in the province’s release that she’s “confident that we will see industry-wide participation of this program in the very near future.”

Aleutian disease, which was first described on a mink ranch in 1956, is recognized worldwide and is considered the most important infectious disease in the mink ranching industry.

The disease first appeared in farmed mink in Newfoundland last June, and by August was confirmed on nine farms in the province. The disease then appeared last winter in the province’s wild mink population.

The $5.4 million for this program was announced in April’s provincial budget, with specifics for the program made available in June.

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