ST. PAUL – As cases of the highly pathogenetic avian flu (HPAI) continue to be detected in the upper Midwest, State Representative Paul Torkelson (R-Hanska) wants to alert commercial poultry farmers and homeowners with small flocks about available resources that could help keep their birds safe.
“Avian flu is problematic to those who raise turkeys and chickens due to its very contagious nature,” Torkelson said. “But its also important to remind residents that if an outbreak does occur here, poultry products that are available for purchase remain safe and healthy to eat.”
Torkelson said residents may remember the avian flu outbreak in 2015. Back then, 9 million birds in Minnesota were killed by the virus or euthanized to slow its spread – a devastating blow to the agricultural community.
In response, the legislature provided significant funds to help deal with the emergency and the Minnesota Department of Agriculture (MDA) instituted numerous biosecurity measures meant to slow the spread of avian flu if another outbreak came to Minnesota. Torkelson said these biosecurity measures along with significant investments in research at the U of M lab in Willmar have us in a much better place this year compared to 2015.
Torkelson urges turkey and chicken farmers to visit Minnesota’s Board of Animal Health websites to learn more about HPAI and what they can do to combat it. Tips for backyard poultry owners can be found at www.bah.state.mn.us/media/HPAI-Notice-Backyard-Final.pdf. Comprehensive poultry biosecurity steps can be read at www.bah.state.mn.us/poultry/#biosecurity.