The economic impact of the 2015 avian influenza outbreak on the Minnesota economy is estimated to be over $650 million, a key lawmaker from the state said.

That assessment was announced by Rep. Collin Peterson, D-Minnesota, in a September 4 email newsletter sent to constituents. According to Peterson, those losses included more than $170 million in lost wages, affecting 2,500 jobs. The Minnesota Turkey Growers Association confirmed those figures to be accurate.

Peterson serves as the ranking member of the House Agriculture Committee.

Avian influenza recovery efforts progressing

About half of the turkey operations in Minnesota that were affected by avian influenza have been repopulated, Peterson added.

Peterson reported that he recently visited with local turkey growers, managers from Minnesota-based turkey company Jennie-O Turkey Store, egg products company Rembrandt Foods, officials from the Minnesota Board of Animal Health, and state legislators. Among topics discussed were recovery efforts, biosecurity measures, vaccine development and lessons learned that can be applied in case a future outbreak occurs.

According to USDA’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS), Minnesota had 105 detections of avian influenza since the virus was first discovered in the state in March, affecting nearly 9 million birds. The last avian influenza case in Minnesota was confirmed on June 5.