Congressman Steve King says he’s concerned by the push to get Iowa landfills to accept the dead birds from poultry operations that have been hit by avian flu.
“My level of enthusiasm for going to landfills has been relatively low,” King says. “…I have long thought that we needed to maintain the birds on the location. That should be the ideal.”
King says turkeys can be composted and chickens can be burned on the property — or the poultry barns can be super-heated after they’re “shrink wrapped” to destroy the virus, then the barns can be cleaned out. “I think we need to put together more of an industrial approach to this and bring the technology to bear so that the next time there’s a disaster like this, we have developed a model in northwest Iowa,” King says, “to meet a disaster of this scope anywhere in the country.”
King says since he’s a member of the ag committee in the U.S. House, he’s been kept up to date daily on the situation. He’s concerned that investigators haven’t yet determined exactly how the bird flu is being spread. “There are four or five theories, any one of which could work and could be the real reason,” King says. “But we have to figure out as best we can how it got in, especially to the laying houses, and what carried it. And if we can’t figure that out, then we can’t raise the biosecurity to a level that we’ll have enough confidence to repopulate these buildings.”
King says he’s working with others to figure out some sort of federally-financed “risk management tool”– like federal crop insurance – for poultry producers, perhaps something like “business interruption” insurance. “But it’s not coming together with enough clarity that I can predict the shape of things to come,” he says. Iowa is the number one egg producing state in the nation and this bird flu outbreak has hit hardest in King’s northwest Iowa district.