The confirmation Wednesday of highly pathogenic avian influenza (HPAI) detected in non-commercial, backyard poultry flocks in Iowa and Connecticut brought to double digits the number of U.S. states affected by an outbreak that began in South Carolina in January, the first case to pop up in the United States since 2016.
The Iowa case in Pottawattamie County, on the state’s western border, follows multiple discoveries in the Atlantic and Mississippi flyways. The case rings alarm bells for Iowa producers, and raises concerns about U.S. poultry exports as more foreign markets impose HPAI-related restrictions. Iowan producers are taking particular notice, given it is the first HPAI discovery in their state since 2015, when the nation’s largest-ever outbreak of the disease cost them billions of dollars, millions of birds and thousands of jobs.
Meanwhile, though industry analysts have yet to raise any concerns about a material impact on poultry supplies, given advanced biosecurity measures in the U.S., the increasing reach of the current outbreak heightens the risk to U.S. poultry exports.
The same day that USDA confirmed the Iowa and Connecticut cases, Mexico, the largest market for U.S. broilers, for example, added Maine, New York, Delaware and Michigan to its list of restricted exporters, a list that Mexico began with Indiana.
Other foreign markets, including China, Canada, Cuba and St. Lucia, have imposed varying degrees of restrictions on affected states, as noted by the Daily Livestock Report (DLR).
“The current number of commercial poultry flocks affected has been small, but the potential market impacts, especially due to trade restrictions, could be large and thus bears monitoring,” DLR analysts noted.
U.S. broiler exports were 7.4 billion pounds in 2021, a nudge higher than in 2020. Mexico accounted for 22%; Caribbean countries 13%; China 5%; and Canada and Angola collectively 4.3%. These countries represented nearly half of all U.S. broiler exports in 2021.
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