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WSJ: “Worst U.S. Avian Flu Outbreak” Persists, “There is No Historical Context for This”

Dan Frosch reported in today’s Wall Street Journal that, “Nearly a year after it began, the worst avian-influenza outbreak in U.S. history is continuing to decimate poultry flocks across the Midwest and Colorado, frustrating efforts to keep the virus from affecting the nation’s egg prices and supply.”

The Wall Street Journal (Page A3 – January 23, 2023).

The Journal article noted that, “‘One of the challenges is that we don’t know why it has been able to thrive for so long. We’re almost a full year into this outbreak and it is ongoing,’ said Maggie Baldwin, Colorado’s state veterinarian.”

Today’s article stated that, “People working on the problem say there is no easy way to stop the spread of bird flu. Instead, the virus must be allowed to run its course.

‘There is no historical context for this. It’s like when Covid hit for humans,’ said Mike Tincher, rehabilitation coordinator for Colorado’s Rocky Mountain Raptor Program.

“To keep bird flu from spreading, entire poultry flocks must be destroyed after an infection is confirmed. The outbreak has caused the deaths of nearly 58 million poultry in 47 states, according to U.S. Department of Agriculture data.”

Frosch explained that, “One facility in Colorado’s Weld County that had restocked with healthy hens after initially having to euthanize its flock because of the virus was struck again by an outbreak last month, said Bill Scebbi, executive director of the Colorado Egg Producers, which represents five family farms. The facility had to euthanize its new flock, Mr. Scebbi said.

“He said the flu has been destructive to Colorado’s egg industry, with farmers having to purchase eggs from out of state to meet customer demand. Egg farmers aren’t insured against the virus, Mr. Scebbi said, and estimated losses are in the millions.”

The Journal article added that, “Still, according to Emily Metz, president and chief executive of the American Egg Board, which represents egg producers, many farms around the country are recovering from the outbreak. There are currently about 6% fewer hens laying eggs than normal nationwide, she said.”

Keith Good Photo

Keith Good is the Farm Policy News editor for the farmdoc project. He has previously worked for the USDA’s National Agricultural Statistics Service, and compiled the daily News Summary from 2003-2015. He is a graduate of Purdue University (M.S.- Agricultural Economics), and Southern Illinois University School of Law.

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