More than a year after the avian influenza outbreak in Iowa, poultry producers have rebuilt their flocks, but they’re still feeling the lingering economic impact.
Iowa Ag Secretary Bill Northey says there were no cases of bird flu in the state this spring, and with the warmer weather now, it should not reappear.
“We didn’t have any high-path avian influenza in the Midwest or the country this year,” Northey says. “We had that one outbreak in Indiana in January. That got settled very quickly. They say they learned a lot by what the process was a year ago. They did a great job of shutting that down and we had no more.”
Despite that, Northey says there are some longer-term market impacts from the bird flu outbreak.
Northey says, “There were some customers of eggs that were buying eggs before high-path avian influenza and once eggs got very expensive or they had trouble getting eggs, they took eggs out of the recipe for the consumer products they were producing and since, have not put eggs back in.”
As a result, he says poultry operations in Iowa and elsewhere are dealing with egg prices that are down significantly.
“We’re seeing some of the lowest prices for eggs that we’ve ever seen because we have production back but we don’t have demand back,” Northey says. “The egg producers are struggling right now with very low prices.”
Northey says the break-even level for many Iowa egg producers is about 50-cents a dozen, but they’re getting about half that.
Iowa had 75 confirmed bird flu sites in 18 counties last year and some 32-million birds had to be destroyed. It’s estimated the avian flu outbreak cost the state $1.2 billion.
By Jerry Oster, WNAX, Yankton