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Avian Influenza Tightening Turkey Supply

Avian Influenza Tightening Turkey Supply


As we approach the holiday season, while not a shortage, availability of turkeys for Thanksgiving is snug due to highly pathogenic avian influenza Scott Prestage, VP of Prestage Farms Poultry Division:

“Everyone knows about the impact that bird flu has had on the poultry industry, out in the Midwest, particularly the turkey industry.  The last numbers I saw was something like more than 3.5% of the annual production in this country taken out of the pipeline from bird flu, that’s had a positive impact on market prices, for sure.”

And Prestage says they’ve had to turn down some requests for product:

“I’m aware of folks that have contacted our company looking for product.  And you build relationships with customers, and in times like these its important you take care of those customers, so, unfortunately you have to say ‘no’ to folks that call looking for product.”

As far as carry-over into the New Year, Prestage had this:

“We will not have very much carry-over.  I can tell you that product is moving out of coolers and freezers very quickly. I don’t think we’ll have very much at all, no.”

Much of the south east is waiting for the other shoe to drop when it comes to the re-emergence of bird flu, and Prestage says it could be just a little early:

“No one is more relieved than we are.  I think we have to remind ourselves that the first case of bird flu that was recorded by USDA was in early December on the west coast, and then as we came around towards the end of the first quarter and into the second quarter is where it really got out of control in the upper Midwest.”

As most poultry producers in the Carolinas, Prestage Farms is ever-vigilant against the possibility of bird flu re-emerging:

“We are.  As a company involved in turkey production, we talk to many of our partners in producing these birds, and try to work with them and try to find ways to alleviate this risk. There’s only so much we can do, we’re trying to do as much as we can, there’s always more that we can do.  At the end of the day you gotta cross your fingers and say a prayer because it’s going to take some good luck to keep this stuff out of North Carolina.”
Scott Prestage, vice president of poultry for Prestage Farms based in North Carolina.'

A native of the Texas Panhandle, Rhonda was born and raised on a cotton farm where she saw cotton farming evolve from ditch irrigation to center pivot irrigation and harvest trailers to modules. After graduating from Texas Tech University, she got her start in radio with KGNC News Talk 710 in Amarillo, Texas.