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Northey Attends Avian Flu Support Prayer Supper

Amy Mayer/IPR

Iowa Secretary of Agriculture and Land Stewardship Bill Northey attended an avian influenza support prayer supper in Buena Vista County Wednesday night. The picnic of pulled pork sandwiches and salads was in support of affected poultry producers.

Northey told the group of roughly 175 people that communities need to pull together during difficult times.

“It’s important to do what you’re doing tonight. And that’s put your arms around the folks that went through this, let them know how much you care,” Northey says. “We’ll get through this.”

Of the more than 75 cases of bird flu in Iowa, 14 were in Buena Vista County. One of the affected producers is Mark Herrig, whose flock of 40,000 turkeys was officially diagnosed with bird flu April 27.

“I knew then that we were in for a tough summer,” Herrig says. “That first couple weeks I was really in the dumps. It’s gotten better now. And a lot of it is because we’re staying busy. We’re doing the composting ourselves.”

The USDA provides an indemnity for euthanized birds and will cover some costs of disposal, but the federal government doesn’t give aid for loss of income. Herrig contracts with Tyson Foods, which is providing him with a monthly allowance that takes care of property tax, insurances, building maintenance and some repairs.

Some have called the 2014-2015 Avian Flu Outbreak, the biggest animal health emergency in U.S. history.