Avian flu outbreak takes heavy toll

The highly pathogenic avian influenza outbreak is taking a heavy toll on the turkey industry.

National Turkey Federation vice chair John Zimmerman is a grower from Northfield, Minnesota and tells Brownfield he’s been very fortunate not to be directly affected by avian flu.

“But many of my friends have. And listening to their stories, you have a lot of empathy for them, but it’s heartbreaking when you’re a livestock farmer (and) have to actually euthanize your livestock. And specifically the silence after that, the first time in generations that there hasn’t been livestock on that farm.”

He says the impact goes beyond the growers.

“And then the veterinarians and the staff of APHIS (USDA’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service), have been great and wonderful to our industry, but the stress on them is considerable. And being short-staffed already, we’re very concerned that we don’t want to burn anyone out.”

Zimmerman says the Turkey Federation wants to see more resources for foreign animal disease preparedness included in the next farm bill.

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