Via The Des Moines Register: Poultry producers frustrated with bird flu response. Excerpt:
Merlin DeGroot is stuck. He's had thousands of dead chickens sitting on his egg farm for weeks, attracting flies and smelling worse each day.
"I don't know if you guys know what a Dumpster full of birds stinks like after four weeks," said DeGroot, who fields complaints daily from his neighbors.
And it's just one of dozens of problems the Sheldon area farmer is trying to unravel after his egg-laying farm with about 100,000 chickens was hit with avian influenza in April.
A slew of federal and state agencies has made that process even harder, DeGroot told congressional and state leaders Saturday, during one of three town hall meetings in northwest Iowa, an area hammered by H5N2 over the past month.
"They just couldn't coordinate anything together. This one had a plan, and this one had a plan," he said. "Meanwhile, here we sit."
DeGroot wasn't alone. A half-dozen chicken and turkey producers expressed frustration at meetings in Sibley, Rock Rapids and Sioux Center. Among concerns: stalled efforts to dispose of the birds, uncertainty about federal payments and slow-moving crews to depopulate infected flocks and decontaminate operations.
An estimated 25 million chickens, turkeys and ducks have been killed or destroyed in Iowa to contain the deadly, fast-moving virus that's hit 63 commercial and backyard flocks.
The meetings were organized by U.S. Sen. Joni Ernst, who was only able to attend the Sioux Center meeting because of overnight votes at the nation's capital. Leading discussions were U.S. Rep. Steve King, Bill Northey, Iowa's secretary of agriculture, state Sen. David Johnson and Rep. John Wills. Altogether, about 120 attended.
King called the outbreak in Iowa and 14 other states a national disaster. The disease has stricken an estimated 40.7 million birds in the U.S., although most of the facilities have been located in Iowa and Minnesota.
"It's not only a financial calamity but a huge logistics problem that we've never faced before," King told Iowa poultry producers and residents. "Nobody anticipated a disaster of this magnitude."