Report: New tally puts Minnesota's bird flu costs near $650 million


A new estimate of what the bird flu has cost Minnesota puts the figure near $650 million, MPR News reports.

That new number from University of Minnesota Extension doubles their cost estimate of two months ago.

The Extension's senior analyst, Brigid Tuck, tells MPR it includes losses sustained on farms and at poultry processing plants.

Avian influenza struck more than 100 Minnesota poultry farms this spring, with all the birds on those farms either dying of the virus or being euthanized to keep it from spreading.

The loss of birds led to layoffs in the processing industry, including more than 200 at the Jennie-O turkey plant in Faribault.

Another domino in the economic chain reaction is the bird flu's impact on egg prices. U.S. News reports Minnesota has lost one-third of its egg-laying hens and Iowa has lost 40 percent.

The shortage has had a limited effect on the cost of eggs you buy in a grocery store, but for wholesale bakers, it's another story. Those operations usually purchase liquified eggs by the bucket and their prices have soared.

A baker in White Bear Lake told Marketplace a bucket that cost $26 in early April now runs $90.

It's been nearly a month since the last outbreak of bird flu was reported. But as National Geographic reports, many experts think the virus is only taking a break and there are fears that its return could strike the east and west coasts, in addition to the Midwest.

An executive with the consulting group FarmEcon has put the nationwide cost of the bird flu at $3.3 billion, National Geographic says.

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