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Commentary: Bird flu remains concern for state's poultry industry

The following is a commentary submitted to the newspaper's Opinion page. It does not necessarily reflect the views of the Echo Press.

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By State Rep. Paul Anderson, R-Starbuck

Minnesota continues to be "ground zero" for this latest round of highly pathogenic bird flu which, so far, has impacted 26 states to varying degrees.

The latest count has 43 confirmed sites in our state, with nearly two million birds affected. Seventeen counties have had positive locations, stretching from the Rochester area in the south to around Detroit Lakes in the north. To date, 38 commercial sites have tested positive, in addition to five backyard flocks. In our area, Kandiyohi County has reported six outbreaks, Stearns five, with Swift and Big Stone counties each having one. Morrison County has the most outbreaks in the state with seven. Nationally, the count is 144 commercial sites and 53 backyard flocks.

Our neighbor to the west, South Dakota, has also been hit hard, with 35 positive sites so far. Iowa, the nation's leading egg producer, has had positive tests at two large laying operations that resulted in the depopulation of 13 million chickens.

That's a big part of the reason we've seen a rapid increase in the price of eggs. Minnesota is the leading state for turkey production, so it stands to reason most of the positive locations reported here have been in turkey flocks. This avian flu will also have an impact on the price of turkeys at the store, how much so depends on the duration of the outbreak. According to state veterinarian Dr. Beth Thompson, the virus that causes bird flu likes cold, damp weather similar to what we've experienced most of this spring season so far. The 2015 outbreak didn't subside until we had warmer weather in May.

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One of the last items taken up by the Legislature before we adjourned for the Easter/Passover break was passing emergency funding for the Department of Agriculture. The $1 million appropriation will provide testing and other materials necessary for the department's work against bird flu. It's anticipated that additional money will be needed soon and could possibly be added to the drought relief bill that's scheduled to be worked on by a joint House-Senate conference committee. I serve on that committee and we anticipate starting to meet shortly after returning to the Capitol on Tuesday, April 19.

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The following is a letter to the editor submitted to the newspaper by a reader. It does not necessarily reflect the views of the Echo Press. To submit a letter, send it to aedenloff@echopress.com or Echo Press, P.O. Box 549, Alexandria, MN 56308.
The following is a letter to the editor submitted to the newspaper by a reader. It does not necessarily reflect the views of the Echo Press. To submit a letter, send it to aedenloff@echopress.com or Echo Press, P.O. Box 549, Alexandria, MN 56308.
The following commentary is an opinion item submitted to the newspaper. It does not necessarily reflect the views of the Echo Press.
The following is a letter to the editor submitted to the newspaper by a reader. It does not necessarily reflect the views of the Echo Press. To submit a letter, send it to aedenloff@echopress.com or Echo Press, P.O. Box 549, Alexandria, MN 56308.