The U.S. Department of Agriculture announced on Monday a wild duck shot in Montana was carrying the H5N2 strain of avian influenza. That’s fueling calls to scrap a USDA proposal to allow organic poultry more access to the outside. Pro Farmer’s First Thing Today report says the sick bird was harvested for surveillance purposes.
Farmers are concerned the sick bird might be the forerunner to another avian influenza outbreak like the one that decimated American poultry flocks in 2014 and 2015. The USDA said in a statement that it hasn’t found any illness in domestic flocks. The USA Chief Veterinarian said the duck “appears to have suffered from one of the strains that caused the previous outbreak.
It’s a powerful reminder that Highly Pathogenic Avian Influenza is still out there in wild birds, so producers need to be vigilant about biosecurity to protect domestic poultry.” Large organic egg producers point to that as the main reason for the USDA’s National Organic Program to scrap its efforts to require organic poultry to have access to the outdoors. The large producers say the risk of avian influenza is “precisely the reason we’ve opposed USDA’s misguided efforts to force organic hens to be exposed to the outdoors.”