New cases of avian influenza reported in three Midwest states

By Clarissa Hawes, Land Line staff writer | Friday, March 13, 2015

Heightened concerns have been raised as new cases of avian influenza – or bird flu – have been reported in three key turkey-producing states in the U.S.

Three states with reports of the latest outbreak of the highly contagious strain of the bird flu, H5N2, are Minnesota, Missouri and Arkansas, which are major exporters of poultry and eggs.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture confirmed on Wednesday, March 11, that the H5N2 has been found in commercial turkey flocks in Missouri and Arkansas that contract with Butterball LLC. The virus also wiped out a commercial turkey flock in Minnesota a week earlier.

“At Butterball, our first concern is always the health and safety of the people who enjoy our products as well as the care and well-being of our turkeys,” according to a statement released by Butterball on Friday, March 13.

According to the USDA, Minnesota is the top turkey-producing state in the U.S., Arkansas is third, and Missouri ranks fifth.

Toby Moore, vice president of communications for the USA Poultry and Egg Export Council, told Land Line on Friday that approximately 40 countries, including Mexico, China and the European Union, have placed trade restrictions on U.S. poultry, mostly at the state level.

Moore said he wasn’t sure of the impact this will have on the trucking industry, as “some companies are shifting production to unaffected states.”

“Mexico’s ban on Minnesota, Missouri and Arkansas are probably the most relevant, because of the large volume of product trucked to the border from those states,” Moore said.

On its website, the USDA states that the agency is “working with trading partners to minimize trade impacts on poultry and poultry products as much as possible.”

In January, China and South Korea, along with other countries, banned the import of U.S. poultry after bird flu was found in one commercial poultry operation in California, and in backyard flocks of chickens, geese and guinea fowl in Oregon, Washington and Idaho.

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