The US state of Iowa took an economic hit of about $1.2 billion stemming from the death of more than 30 million hens and 1.5 million turkeys because of avian flu this past spring, a report commissioned by the Iowa Farm Bureau Federation (IFBF) confirms.
The Iowa study, conducted by Decision Innovation Solutions of Urbandale, Iowa, found that the avian flu outbreaks around the state—mostly caused by H5N2—resulted in 8,444 lost jobs, many of which will not be recovered.
Egg, chicken and turkey industries affected
It also noted an impact of $427 million in lost wages in addition to the jobs lost, as well as about $145 million in lost taxes. The firm estimated the total economic loss at $1.2 billion. The outbreaks affected the egg, chicken, and turkey industries in the state.
In May, Minnesota and Iowa experts put the total loss for the two states at around $1 billion, but several H5N2 outbreaks occurred in both states after that. Minnesota lost more than 9 million poultry to the virus, mostly turkeys. Nationwide, about 50 million birds died because of the outbreaks.
Long recovery time for poultry sector
"Many layer operations affected by the outbreak expect to take 18-24 months before reaching pre-outbreak production levels," the report said. "Egg producers able to sell eggs, as well as consumers, can expect to be in an elevated price environment for at least the next 6-9 months. Turkey producers are predicted to be out of production for approximately 30 weeks."
The report concludes, "In addition to the lost revenue to producers, (highly pathogenic avian flu) also has many other adverse consequences on economic activity up and downstream such as lost business for feed suppliers, veterinarians, truck transportation, financial institutions, and decreases in government tax revenues."