(USDA photo)

The State Agriculture Department announced today that bird flu restrictions have been lifted for three commercial poultry sites in Franklin, Hamilton, and Humboldt County. The Iowa Turkey Federation’s Gretta Irwin says this is the start of a recovery.

“This shows that the farms have completed their sampling and the infected premises no longer have the virus on the farms. It is a step in the right direction to get back into full production,” Irwin says.

Bird flu restrictions had kept poultry and poultry products from being moved in or out of a farm with an outbreak of avian flu. Farmers at those sites will now be able to bring turkeys and chickens back to their barns and get back to production. Irwin says the process has been faster than recovery from bird flu seven years ago. “I really attribute that to better plans, better communication, and better preparation by the farmers,” Irwin says.

Iowa Ag Secretary Mike Naig says this is a key step. “It’s a notable event in the outbreak because of course for the first time since the beginning of March we have been able to lift quarantines on some of the infected premises,” he says.

Naig says the three sites completed several tasks to get their restrictions lifted.”Disposing and cleaning and disinfecting and they have tested negative for the virus in their buildings and so they have been released from quarantine — which means they can restock and get on with business,” Naig says. “So, there’s a lot of work left to do to finish cleaning up the remaining sites.”

There were 19 confirmed outbreaks across the state. Niag says the thought early on the spread of the bird flu was caused by migrating birds.  “The evidence supports the fact that these have been wild bird independent introductions, which is different than 2015,” according to Naig, “Where Yes, it was carried by wild birds. But then, as we got into that outbreak, it was moving from farm movement between farms. And we really haven’t seen that. Certainly not to the extent that we did in 2015. That’s a testament to the biosecurity that our poultry producers have been implementing on their farms.”

The site in Franklin County raises young chickens, the one in Humboldt County breeding chickens, and commercial turkeys are raised at the site in Hamilton County where the restrictions were lifted. More than 13 million birds in Iowa have died from the latest round of virus or have been killed to stop its spread.