While this year’s outbreaks of bird flu, the worst in seven years, are following the usual pattern of dissipating during hot weather, it’s too early to declare the threat over, said the Agriculture Department on Wednesday.
As bird flu losses topped 35 million fowl, Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack said on Thursday that the USDA has paid about $146 million in indemnities to poultry owners, with an additional $263 million available. “That’s about half of where we were in 2014-2015 with the last outbreak,” he said.
Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack approved the second infusion of additional funding to the agency fighting outbreaks of highly pathogenic avian influenza from the Atlantic to the Rockies, said the USDA on Wednesday.
Laboratory tests confirmed highly pathogenic avian influenza (HPAI) in three additional states, Pennsylvania, Idaho and Utah, with losses in domestic flocks nearing 27.4 million birds, said the Agriculture Department. The first outbreak in Pennsylvania, at an egg farm in Lancaster County, was announced two days after the state banned poultry shows at county and local fairs for 60 days.
Nearly 5 percent of the egg-laying hens in the United States have died in outbreaks of highly pathogenic avian influenza in the past six weeks, said USDA data on Wednesday. Egg prices were rising faster than the overall rate of food inflation, though there was an ample supply ahead of Easter and Passover.
Some 417,600 turkeys will be culled due to outbreaks of highly pathogenic avian influenza on 11 farms over the weekend, said the Agriculture Department on Monday. The outbreaks helped raise the U.S. toll from the viral disease to 22.85 million birds, most of them chickens.
In three weeks, outbreaks of highly pathogenic avian influenza (HPAI) have killed more than 4 percent of the egg-laying chickens in America. "Egg availability may be limited leading into Easter," traditionally a high-demand period for eggs, said analysts at rural lender CoBank.
To prevent spread of a deadly poultry disease, the Agriculture Department urged bird owners on Thursday to practice good biosecurity and to consider keeping their birds indoors all day. Fourteen million birds in domestic flocks have died in outbreaks of highly pathogenic avian influenza since Feb. 8.
Highly pathogenic avian influenza was identified in three more states — Missouri, Maryland and South Dakota — said the Agriculture Department. Since the first case was confirmed on Feb. 8 on a turkey farm in southern Indiana, HPAI has been found in 21 domestic flocks in 12 states.
The lethal poultry disease highly pathogenic avian influenza has been identified in a backyard flock in Iowa, the No. 1 egg-producing state, said the Agriculture Department on Wednesday. It was the first case of “high path” bird flu west of the Mississippi River and the 17th found in domestic flocks this year.
More than three years ago, California voters approved Proposition 12, guaranteeing sows, veal calves and egg-laying hens more room to move about and barring the sale of eggs, veal and pork from farms, even in other states, that do not comply with the new standards. The law went into effect on Sunday, although state officials were still working on a final set of regulations.(No paywall)
On Wednesday, two days after state legislators rewrote a voter-approved animal welfare law, Massachusetts Gov. Charlie Baker signed the bill into law, averting a possible shortage of eggs and pork. The new law revamps housing standards for egg-laying hens and delays until Aug. 15 a prohibition on the sale of pork products from farms that do not give pigs enough room to lie down, stand up, fully extend their legs or turn around freely.
The U.S. Supreme Court refused on Monday to hear a meat industry challenge to California's voter-approved Proposition 12, which requires farmers to give sows, veal calves, and egg-laying chickens more room to move about and bans shipments of pork, veal, and eggs produced outside of California if the animals are housed in conditions that do not meet California's standards.
California's Prop 12, which prohibits the sale of eggs in the state from chickens housed in battery cages, along with the arrival of the first viable egg substitutes, amounts to a one-two punch that could mark the beginning of the end of the industrial egg, writes Rowan Jacobsen in FERN's latest story, published with New Food Economy. (No paywall)
Under a new rule proposed by the USDA’s Food Safety & Inspection Service, facilities that process egg products will have to develop and implement “hazard analysis and critical control point (HACCP) systems” in an effort to modernize safety processes in the egg industry.
At the top of the Trump administration's list of agricultural goals for the new NAFTA is elimination of Canadian tariffs on imports of U.S. dairy, poultry, and egg products — meaning a dismantling of the nation's supply-management system. Canada balked at that demand in the previous round of negotiation, and the current round of talks in Mexico City made little progress over the weekend.
Canadian officials say prospects of agreement on a new NAFTA by the end of the year are fading in the face of unacceptable U.S. demands, reports Canadian Press, with some analysts questioning if the true U.S. goal is a breakdown in negotiations. The chief U.S. negotiator told Bloomberg, "We made a request of Canada for improved access for dairy, poultry and eggs" over the weekend, the first time agricultural trade was discussed at the talks.
The maker of a vegan mayonnaise, Hampton Creek, accused three top employees of planning a coup and fired them. The company said the employees — two vice presidents and the chief technology officer — intended to change the governance structure of the Silicon Valley company so that new investors would have a greater voice in company operations.