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Last Updated: Monday, 10 April 2006, 15:51 GMT 16:51 UK
Bird flu 'not hitting business'
By Andrew Black
BBC Scotland news website
Tayside and Central Scotland reporter

Ian Miller
Ian Miller surveys the area where his hens usually roam
During his 20 years in the organic farming industry, Ian Miller has coped with the threat of foot-and-mouth disease and the BSE crisis.

He is unsure what effect the bird flu case in Britain will have on business, but said there had been no immediate decline in customers.

Jamesfield Organic Farm, near Abernethy in Perthshire, relies on rearing its 500 hens outdoors.

However, the farm lies within the Executive's wild bird risk area.

The hens are now being kept in hen houses and there is a risk that the animals may lose their organic status.

But Mr Miller said he was hopeful that organic farmers would be looked on sympathetically.

Bird restrictions

He said: "The situation is out of our control, but even though the hens are inside, they've got more space than they would do if they were on a battery farm.

"Customers get on at us for keeping them inside but there's nothing we can do about it."

The scary thing is that you were in control with foot and mouth, but it's different with wild birds flying about
Ian Miller
Jamesfield Organic Farm

Mr Miller, who makes a range of organic products from bread to haggis on-site and runs a restaurant and shop, opened for business in July last year.

"It's difficult to say how business will go," he said.

"Business has certainly been growing over the last few months, but we don't have a track record from previous years.

"Bird flu certainly won't do us any good I don't think."

He added: "Most food scares, maybe it's sad to say, help organic sales. But this time that that might not happen."

'Overblown' coverage

Despite the crisis, consumers are still coming to Jamesfield.

"I'm still selling eggs and folk are still buying eggs, but most of the customers are pretty well educated," said Mr Miller, who employs 25 people.

Jamesfield Organic Farm
Customers are still buying eggs from Jamesfield

He added that the discovery of a dead swan infected with the H5N1 bird flu strain in Fife had been "blown out of proportion", adding: "I'd never have thought one dead swan could cause such a commotion."

And he said the find, in Cellardyke, was still a mystery to him.

"I was really surprised that it came to Britain and I didn't think it would have hit Scotland," said Mr Miler.

"I'd be very interested to know about the history of that swan.

"But I would be very surprised if there is another case."

Mr Miller said the one case was far less serious than Britain's foot-and-mouth crisis.

But he added: "The scary thing is that you were in control with foot-and-mouth, but it's different with wild birds flying about."



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