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MN poultry sales, exhibits temporarily paused due to bird flu

State officials say the current outbreak in Minnesota poses a high risk to poultry but low risk to the public and there is no food safety concern for consumers.

ST PAUL, Minn. — *Editor's note: The above story first aired on Wednesday, March, 30, 2022.

Minnesota animal health officials are imposing a ban on all poultry sales and exhibitions through the month of April after the presence of bird flu was found in the state.

The ban, which includes poultry community sales, swaps, fairs, exhibitions and other events where birds are brought together, is effective Friday and lasts through May 1.

A report from the Minnesota Board of Animal Health says avian influenza has been found in commercial flocks in Meeker, Stearns, Kandiyohi and Lac Qui Parle counties and in a backyard producer in Mower County.

“Viruses like HPAI need hosts to continue to spread,” said state veterinarian, Dr. Beth Thompson. “It’s our job to stop the spread of disease. Unfortunately, in this situation we feel one of the best things we can do for the health of all birds in Minnesota is to take a pause on poultry events through May 1.”

According to state officials, the current outbreak in Minnesota poses a high risk to poultry but low risk to the public and there is no food safety concern for consumers.

Minnesota is currently ranked No. 1 in turkey production in the nation, boasting more than 660 turkey farms that raise about 40 million birds annually. State agricultural and economic officials say turkey production generates $774 million in cash receipts annually, and in 2020 Minnesota exported about 15% of its production, worth approximately $114 million.

On Thursday, Gov. Tim Walz signed an executive order to waive regulations to certain carriers responding to mitigation efforts.

“As someone who grew up on a family farm, I know the work our farmers and producers do is tough under the very best conditions. We will continue to work with Minnesota’s poultry industry and our federal partners to quickly and decisively respond to the HPAI cases in Minnesota and ensure our poultry industry remains strong,” said Gov. Walz in a statement. 

In 2015, a bird flu outbreak in the United States led to more than 50 million chickens and turkeys being euthanized, mostly in Minnesota and Iowa.

For more on the H5N1 Highly Pathogenic Avian Influenza (HPAI) outbreaks and how the state of Minnesota is responding, check out a dedicated page on the Minnesota Board of Animal Health website.

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