What the worst bird flu outbreak in U.S. history means for farms


We have seen the future, and it’s northwest Iowa. This spring this corner of the Hawkeye State has been overwhelmed with dead birds—31.5 million of them. For weeks flu-stricken and euthanized chickens, turkeys, and other fowl piled up in dumpsters, attracting flies and emitting a stench. Only recently has the disposal crisis abated, with the help of round-the-clock incinerators and crews in hazmat suits.

The carnage is the work of H5N2, the virus whose sweep through Midwestern poultry farms (Minnesota has been badly affected too) had killed 48.1 million birds as of late June. It’s the worst avian flu outbreak in U.S. history, and its impact is spreading: Egg prices have soared, and food companies, including Hormel and Post Holdings, have warned of likely declines in sales. The cost of dead poultry stands at $191 million; the total economic damage of the outbreak in Iowa alone is estimated at $957…

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