The president of the Iowa Turkey Federation’s board of directors doesn’t raise turkeys, but his family business has been hit hard by the bird flu outbreak. Ross Thoreson is the sales manager for Best Veterinary Solutions, his family’s business in Ellsworth.
“We’ve probably lost maybe 15-20 percent of our business from this time last year,” Thoreson says.
Thoreson’s company sells veterinary supplies to turkey producers and operations with laying hens.
Rembrandt Enterprises, based in northwest Iowa, is one of the world’s largest egg producers in the world. Dave Rettig, the company’s president and co-owner, had to lay off 200 of the company’s 900 employees and has been buying eggs from afar to keep supplying customers.
“We’re importing eggs from Latvia, from Spain, from a number of different countries and we’re shipping them all the way — in shell form — to northwest Iowa, which is just unprecedented to think about,” Rettig says.
Rettig and others in the industry expect the 71 poultry operators in Iowa that were hit by bird flu and had to kill all their birds will have chicks back in their barns by mid-Demceber. But Rettig says that doesn’t mean Iowa egg production will soon soar back to previous levels.
“Most of the companies in Iowa are probably looking at a one-to-two year period of time to get back to production,” Rettig says. “And that’s if we don’t get hit again.”
The poultry industry worries bird flu may return again in the fall when temperatures dip and wild birds begin to migrate south.