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AMSTERDAM, March 12 (Reuters) - The Dutch government said on Thursday that 30,000 chickens had been destroyed after bird flu was identified at a free-range farm near the eastern town of Barneveld.
In a statement, the government said it was still determining the strain of the virus in question, but that it was likely a mild form and not the highly pathogenic strain that struck Dutch farms last year.
Hundreds of thousands of birds were destroyed in response to last year's outbreak, which experts estimated cost the Dutch poultry industry at least 100 million euros.
"Since a low pathogenic H7 (influenza) variant can mutate into a highly pathogenic variant, the affected farm was cleared as quickly as possible" in accordance with European rules, the government said.
The Netherlands is one of the world's largest agricultural producers and its second largest agricultural exporter, selling 79 billion euros worth of goods abroad last year.
With so many farms packed in a small area, disease can spread quickly.
The government imposed a three-week poultry transport ban in a 1 kilometre (O.6 mile) radius of the affected farm, an area that contains 17 other poultry farms. (Reporting by Thomas Escritt and Toby Sterling; Editing by Tom Heneghan)