Agency takes proactive stance in face of bird flu threat
from the Ohio Dept. of Agriculture
REYNOLDSBURG, Ohio (June 2, 2015) – In an aggressive move designed to help protect Ohio’s $2.3 billion poultry industry from the avian flu that has so negatively impacted other poultry-producing states, today the Ohio Department of Agriculture canceled all live bird exhibitions this year. The ban includes county and independent fairs, the Ohio State Fair, and all other gatherings of birds for show or for sale, including auctions and swap meets. Similar bans have been enacted in other poultry states. So far, Ohio is virus-free and the move is intended to continue that status.
Highly Pathogenic Avian Influenza (HPAI)—also called the avian flu – is an extremely contagious virus that primarily affects domestic poultry and is believed to be spread by wild, migrating birds. The United States Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) first confirmed the virus in the U.S. beginning in late 2014. Since that time more than 44 million birds at more than 197 locations have been affected.
“This was a difficult decision because it means young people can’t show their birds at fairs, but it’s in the best interest of an industry that literally thousands of Ohio families and businesses depend on and which provides billions of dollars to our state’s economy. The right move isn’t always the easy move, but this is the right move, especially when you see just how devastating the virus has been to other big poultry states like Iowa and Minnesota. Ohioans need to do all we can to ensure that we protect our industry and that we help avoid a costly spike in the price of important foods like chicken, turkey and eggs,” said Ohio Department of Agriculture Director David T. Daniels.
Ohio is the second largest egg producer in the country and home to 28 million laying chickens, 12 million broilers, 8.5 million pullets and 2 million turkeys. Ohio’s egg, chicken and turkey farms employ more than 14,600 jobs and contribute $2.3 billion to the state’s economy. Ohio’s role in national poultry production is even greater considering the loss that other major poultry states are experiencing.