Bird flu causes egg prices to rise


LANSING, Mich. (WOOD) — Get ready to pay more for eggs this summer.

The latest strain of avian influenza has infected over 38 million hens, turkeys and fryers at farms in 20 states. So far, Indiana is the only state east of the Mississippi to record cases of the bird bug.

Egg producers here in Michigan, like Herbruck’s Poultry Ranch near Ionia, have taken extraordinary measures to keep the bird flu out of their facilities, basically going on lockdown. Neither people nor trucks are allowed on site without being decontaminated. And that’s one of the measures.

“We’re not sure of how it’s being spread, and so this way if we’re diligent on every effort, hopefully we’ll keep that from coming in to Michigan,” said Val Vail-Shirey, the executive director of Michigan Allied Poultry Industries, Inc., which represents the state’s 47 poultry farms.

The success of the fight to keep the bird flu out of Michigan is good news for everyone from the person who picks up a carton of eggs at the grocery store to the person who picks up a quick breakfast at the drive-thru.

Michigan ranks seventh in the nation in egg production. And Herbruck’s provides eggs for every McDonald’s restaurant east of the Mississippi.

While their efforts have helped avoid introduction of the mutated strain of bird flu on Michigan farms, the high cost and loss of production that comes with the bug means consumers will still probably feel the pinch.

“With taking that many layers out of production, we’re bound to see an impact from that,” Vail-Shirey said.

It’s simple supply and demand. Over 25 million hens have been destroyed since mid-December, when the bug was discovered. Take that many egg layers out of commission and prices will go up — how remains to be seen.

“I’d hate for anyone to hold me to this, but there have been some numbers out there that it could be a 15 cent-per-dozen in increase,” Vail-Shirey said. “Maybe it could go higher.”

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Online:

Food prices outlook from the U.S. Department of Agriculture

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