Consumers nationwide are beginning to see price increases because of the growing avian influenza epidemic, which has caused millions of chickens, turkeys and other birds to die or be euthanized.
The U.S. Department of Agriculture has reported three deadly flu strains in commercial and backyard poultry flocks totaling more than 43 million birds in 15 states since mid-December. In Iowa alone, the outbreak at commercial farms has led to the loss of nearly 30 million chickens, or nearly 10% of the nation’s egg-laying hens.
“This is a devastation unlike any other in the history of our industry,” said Chad Gregory, chief executive of United Egg Producers, a trade group that represents many of the farms that raise egg-laying hens.
Effects of the disease’s rapid spread in recent weeks are just starting to show up at the supermarket, primarily in the egg case.
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