NEWS

Farmers to be given bird flu aid

Two more cases of avian flu in wild birds were confirmed in Greece yesterday as the government promised to give poultry farmers hit with dwindling sales more than 50 million euros in aid. The Agricultural Development Ministry said a European Union laboratory in England had confirmed that two wild swans found dead in a lagoon in Rhodope, northeastern Greece, had tested positive for the deadly H5N1 strain of the virus, taking the total for Greece to nine birds. Authorities will set up a quarantine area with a 3-kilometer radius around the place where the dead swans were discovered. Meanwhile, Deputy Economy and Finance Minister Petros Doukas said emergency financial aid had been approved for poultry farmers who are suffering financial losses because flu fears have reduced consumer demand for poultry products. The affected farmers will get 12 million euros in direct aid and can also take out low-rate, five-year loans, which the government estimates could reach a total 40 million euros.