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May 1, 2017

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The poultry ban is a necessary evil

Farmers' and vendors' complaints about the seven-day partial ban on activities in the poultry industry in order to battle the spread of bird flu are understandable. After all, unlike consumers, who can choose to eat other kinds of meat, most poultry farmers and vendors stand to lose something, if not everything, because of the ban.

Most of them are not complaining specifically about the necessity of imposing such a ban, which forbids the transport and slaughter of poultry between Friday, Feb. 17 and Thursday, Feb. 24.

After all, very few of us are disease-control experts who can challenge the need to control bird flu by stopping the movement of poultry.

The complaints have been mostly about its sudden announcement on Thursday, with little time for the poultry industry to prepare for it.

There are exceptions: chicks younger than 1 day old and chickens raised indoors and sent to slaughterhouses directly are not covered by the ban.

Vendors say they had to rush to stock up on chickens and ducks before the ban started, but many of them have been unable to get the enough supplies to see them through the entire seven-day period.

Some say the ban prevents them from fulfilling orders already placed with them by customers. Restaurant owners, particularly those specializing in chicken or duck dishes, say they have been left without sufficient materials to stay open for the entire week.

Their complaints are understandable, but there is a catch about their demand for an earlier announcement.

If this were not an emergency, there would be no need for such a ban. But this is an emergency, thus the ban must take immediate effect.

Let's give the government the benefit of the doubt here, and assume that they do understand the consequences of the ban — as well as its delayed implementation.

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