Monday, April 20, 2015

Avian flu toll more than two million turkeys

More than two million turkeys have either died or been euthanized when flocks have been hit by avian influenza strain H5N2 in the United States.

One turkey flock and one broiler breeder chicken flock, both in Oxford County, have been hit in Ontario.

National Turkey Federation vice-president Keith Williams says the U.S. losses won’t have much impact on the overall industry which produces about 240 million turkeys a year.

While Minnesota has been hit hard with 26 flocks and 1.6 million turkeys lost so far, Williams said there are turkey producers in 25 other states.

Exports are hurt because many countries have imposed bans on U.S. poultry, but Williams said many of them have only banned poultry from specific states and counties. About 12 per cent of U.S. turkey production is exported.

Other than breeding stock, Canada has minimal exports of poultry products, preferring instead to run a high-tariff supply-management system that effectively prices Canada out of exporting.

Why Canada needs supply management for poultry is a good question, given that the climate, genetics, management, infrastructure and production costs are similar between Canada and export-oriented United States.