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AGRICULTURE

In The Heartland By: Audra Clemons

Over the past year, H5N2, the newest version of bird flu has killed more than 48 million chickens and turkeys in the United States. To date, the USDA and farmers are more prepared than ever should it return this fall. The bird flu is thought to be spread by wild birds on their migration routes north and south, meaning that it is a threat mainly during the spring and fall when the birds travel distances; the states affected the hardest have been in the Midwest. However, consumers across the country felt the last outbreak as it increased egg prices everywhere. Recently, the USDA reported tracking the volatile price of chicken eggs in the United States, and it painted a disturbing picture. In the month of May this past year, the average grade A or better egg prices nationwide leapt from $1.22 to $1.95 in one week. Here’s what is strange: Avian flu appears to affect only egg-laying hens, rather than the chickens raised for meat (aka: broiler chickens). The supply of eggs is down but the supply of broiler chickens, and thus chicken meat, is fairly constant. The reason chicken prices are going down is because the demand outside the country has plummeted (China and South Korea have banned all poultry products from the United States). Although H5N2 appears to be stabilized right now, both farmers and the USDA are prepared should there be a comeback this fall, having stockpiled enough vaccine to stop at least 500 outbreaks – twice as many as occurred during the last bout of bird flu.

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Heartland Living Oct-Nov Issue 2015  
Heartland Living Oct-Nov Issue 2015  

Heartland Living is published bimonthly by Heartland Publications & Marketing. Serving the Heartland of Florida - Sebring, FL - we highlight...

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