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What you need to know, and when to engage your lender.

March 07, 2022

High Pathogenic Avian Influenza (HPAI) is a real issue that is impacting producers across the country and in Farm Credit Mid-America’s service territory.

Recent cases have shown that the disease can impact large-scale commercial producers as well as backyard flocks. As of March 2, more than 1.64 million chickens and turkeys have been depopulated, according to the USDA.

“We know that the process of liquidating a flock and cleaning the facilities before another flock can be introduced is difficult,” says Troy Mason, Financial Officer in Jasper, Indiana. “We want our producers to know that we’re here to support them and work through that process if their flock is impacted.”

While avian bird flu has a limited life span – and usually occurs in the spring or fall as the weather changes – the impact to flocks in the U.S. can be significant. The 2015 outbreak impacted nearly 50 million birds across the Midwest.

“We encourage producers to follow the USDA’s guidance and take this time to review your biosecurity activities to ensure the health of your birds,” says Jarrod Crowder, Financial Officer in Henderson, Kentucky. A toolkit and other resources are available from the USDA here.

He adds that Farm Credit Mid-America’s team members understand the impact this has on customers. “We are familiar with the biosecurity issues our producers are taking, and we will not stop by to visit unannounced. We are committed to your success, and will provide service to you and your operation in the manner that fits you best.”

Here are additional steps producers should take:

  1. Implement methods to prevent contact between your birds and wild birds.
  2. Report sick birds or unusual bird deaths to State/Federal officials, either through your state veterinarian or through the Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service’s (APHIS) toll-free number: 1-866-536-7593.
  3. Contact your Farm Credit Mid-America loan officer if you have a positive case of avian influenza.

There is support available for both producers and contract growers that will help cover a significant portion of the cost to disinfect and clean after a flock is infected, but these programs may not fully cover all related expenses.

“If you are anticipating negative financial impact as a result of a positive case of avian bird flu, it’s critical to talk to your financial officer soon and often,” says Troy. “Even if you haven’t been impacted, don’t hesitate to call us and begin a conversation about what is happening in the industry, and on your farm. We are here to work with you and identify the best financial solutions for your operation.”

Jarrod agrees. “There is a lot of volatility in the marketplace today, and we know our customers have plenty of concerns and challenges they’re facing this spring,” he says. “You don’t have face them alone. We’re here to stand with you through challenges like this one.”