Government officials met with Minnesota poultry farmers to discuss the outbreak of highly pathogenic avian influenza (HPAI).
Officials in attendance were Governor Tim Walz, Senator and former presidential candidate Amy Klobuchar, Senator Tina Smith, Minnesota Ag Commissioner Thom Peterson and State Veterinarian Dr. Beth Thompson. The meeting in Willmar, Minnesota was followed up with a press conference on April 19.
Minnesota is the largest producer of turkey in the U.S., and as of this month, 2 million birds have died or been depopulated at 40 sites across 20 Minnesota counties. In comparison, during the 2014-2015 outbreak, 9 million birds died.
Officials discussed with farmers the financial and emotional impact the outbreak has caused. “We have the safest, most affordable, abundant food supply in the world, and as we’re seeing globally, that can be shattered,” Walz said.
Peterson encouraged farmers to use Minnesota’s Farm and Rural Helpline which employs mental health counselors and provides assistance to local farmers. To call dial 833.600.2670, text FARMSTRESS to 898211 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
The Minnesota Board of Animal Health (MBOAH) confirmed the first case of HPAI in the state since 2015 in late March 2022. The case was at a turkey farm in Meeker County which affected 240,000 turkeys. The second was also at a turkey farm in Stearns County which affected 36,000 birds.
Minnesota is in the Mississippi flyway, which as of April, has the highest percentage of HPAI detections in commercial flocks at 49%.
The MBOAH issued a state-wide ban on poultry sales and exhibitions from April 1 to May 1 to curb the spread of HPAI.
To learn more about HPAI cases in North American commercial poultry flocks, see an interactive map on WATTPoultry.com.
Read our ongoing coverage of the global avian influenza outbreak.