The leaders of the turkey and poultry industries in Iowa say you shouldn’t be concerned about finding the ingredients for some of your holiday favorites despite the devastating impact of the avian flu on the state’s producers. Iowa Poultry Association executive director, Randy Olson, says he has heard concerns about an egg shortage after 22 commercial egg producing facilities in Iowa were wiped out.
“We really believe that there will be an ample supply of eggs for the holidays,” Olson says. He says egg producers will get up and running just as soon as they can. “Iowa’s egg farmers are committed to maintaining an aggressive timeline toward full recovery,” according to Olson. The U-S-D-A’s National Agricultural Statistics Service shows Iowa dropped from the top spot for egg production nationally in September for the first time since September of 2000.
The latest report shows Ohio was the leader with 739 million eggs produced in September, just ahead of the 732 million produced in Iowa. Iowa’s egg production was down 47 percent in September compared to the same month last year. The U-S-D-A report says total U-S egg production was nearly seven-and-a-half billion during September of this year, which was down eight percent from last year.
When it comes to turkey production, Iowa Turkey Federation executive director, Gretta Irwin, says the loss of production in Iowa won’t impact the big turkey eating holiday at the end of this month. “Iowa is a tom-producing state, meaning the meat that we’re raising in Iowa goes into further processed products like deli meats, further processed sausages, ground turkey, those types of products,” Irwin explains. She says the bird you purchase for your Thanksgiving dinner was grown out of state.
“The whole birds that Iowans enjoy, as well as other consumers across the United States come from other states — some here in the Midwest like Minnesota and Missouri — but from other states as well,” Irwin says. She says she’s seeing good prices for whole birds right now in the grocery store. “The frozen birds are still 79 to 99 cents-a-pound, and fresh turkeys are going to be a little higher in price just because of the shortness of the transportation and the need to keep it not frozen. Usually around two dollars or so a pound for that product,” Irwin says.
Iowa’s turkey producers had a shorter process to recover from the bird flu outbreak and the first turkey producer started putting in new birds in their facility in July. Irwin says she expects all the facilities to be back up to production by mid-December.