Highly pathogenic avian influenza (HPAI) is a virus that infects fowl. It is so virulent that it moves quickly between birds and can kill an entire flock in just a few days. Wild birds, domestic poultry, and other animals carry the virus. HPAI is currently considered a seasonal threat, thought to be transmitted from wild waterfowl to domestic poultry as the fowl travel for seasonal migration. Wild bird migration patterns and lower fall temperatures make it very likely that wild birds from recently infected areas in Canada will travel south through the Atlantic flyway through North and South Carolina this fall. Due to the seasonality and severity of the risk, the NCDA has canceled all live bird shows and sales between August 15th and January 15th. This strain of the disease does not infect humans or other livestock.
Many chicken and turkey flocks, pastured and conventional, across the Northwest and Midwest have been decimated by the rapid spread of the disease. Coordinated emergency response to the disease by the government has been key to reducing the number of infected birds and reducing farmers’ losses of livestock.
CFSA’s Q&A on HPAI with the NC State Vet, Dr. Meckes
CFSA has been in communication with the NCDA and the NC State Veterinarian’s office about the impact of HPAI on pastured, organic and backyard poultry flocks, and the state’s HPAI response plans. In order to provide our members with more information about this process and how it will affect poultry owners from backyard homesteaders with a few hens to farmers raising poultry on a commercial scale we have presented the information we have gathered in the form of a FAQ below. Please note that the answers presented below are not direct quotes from the NCDA, and do not represent their legal position. These Q&A’s synthesize the information we have learned during our meeting with Dr. Meckes’ office, along with other sources. Additionally, this information is based on the current state of the virus. If the virus mutates, or conditions are otherwise altered, protocols may be subject to change.
CFSA’s members should feel free to contact our Policy Director, Rochelle Sparko with questions about government response to HPAI in the Carolinas. We encourage poultry owners to contact Rochelle if their flocks test positive for HPAI; if they are impacted by the establishment of a control or surveillance zone around an infected farm; or have encounters with state or federal officials regarding flock registration, biosecurity, or other aspects of the government’s HPAI response. This information will allows CFSA staff to communicate problems and concerns with implementation of HPAI policies to relevant state and USDA officials.
However, please be aware that neither Rochelle nor anyone at CFSA can provide legal advice. If you need help understanding how the law applies to your particular situation, please contact a practicing lawyer.
CFSA has also compiled resources and biosecurity suggestions for pastured-poultry owners from the USDA, NCDA, Extension Agents, and other experts.
This handbook includes invaluable information about organic practices, NOP regulations, EQIP conservation practices that support organic operations, organic nutrient management, ecological weed management, and a list of key resources.
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Organic Production Handbook