Farmers affected by avian flu find support

(CNN) – Some Iowa poultry farmers are feeling the pain of the avian flu.  The illness forcing farmers to slaughter and burn their animals, creating a financial burden.  Now, folks are rallying to help those left in need because of the bird flu.

“It just felt like the bottom fell out. You went from taking care of live, healthy turkeys and keeping them that way to having to see them euthanized and compost them, and your whole world just changes,” said turkey farmer Mark Herrig.

At a prayer and dinner in Albert City, local producers shared their heartbreaking stories of loss.

“As a farmer you know everybody. And it’s affected everybody. Your lifestyles completely changed. You go from raising turkeys to now, pretty much, burying them,” said Austin Herrig.

Secretary of agriculture Bill Northey spoke to many in the agriculture community at numerous stops Wednesday, talking about the widespread economic effects of the outbreak.

“Beyond that farm, there’s somebody that used to process these turkeys that was looking forward to processing these turkeys. There’s somebody that used to bring feed to this operation, that used to be feeding chickens be sorting eggs, be filling trucks, be hauling trucks, all the different kinds of ancillary impacts, it is huge,” said Northey.

All those affected by avian influenza are anxious to hear more from Bill Northey again soon, who spoke of the very real possibility the disease comes back again in the fall, while there are still unanswered questions.

“I don’t want to go through this again it’s very hard to go through,” said Herrig.

Northey says that while the USDA continues to search for answers, they must for now focus on the information that’s available, “I think certainly there’s better ways to be prepared and one of those is to make sure that we have better surveillance that lets us know very, very quickly when that disease is out there and then shut that site down so there’s less chance of that site moving to other places.

While producers continue to hope for better days, they say community support like that shown at Wednesday’s event, is crucial.

All the producers and business owners say the effects are only beginning from this outbreak and that many will continue to suffer from the avian flu, for months to come.

Copyright CNN 2015


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