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Bird Flu Costing Iowa Jobs, Recovery Unlikely This Year

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More than 33 million birds in Iowa have been affected by the highly pathogenic avian flu outbreak, and thousands of jobs have been impacted

Last week, Governor Terry Branstad requested a major disaster event declaration from President Barack Obama, for Buena Vista, Sioux, Webster and Wright counties, which were the hardest hit by bird flu. The disaster event asks for federal unemployment assistance, which Branstad says will help more than 1,500 people who will lose their jobs by August.

Bird flu also showed up in the latest turkey industry numbers from the Agriculture Department, in which turkey production was trimmed by 375 million pounds for the rest of the year, with 200 million pounds also shaved off of next year’s expected production.

But another looming problem for the turkey industry; hatcheries have scaled back their output because of infections at many operations where growing turkeys would have gone. Later this year and next, the industry will need to replace eight million or so birds, but it’s doubtful hatcheries will be able to keep up with demand.

For turkey producers who still have turkeys, prices are three cents better than last year’s, now expected at $1.10 per pound.