National Briefs - Bird flu detected in Tennessee

Wisconsin State Farmer
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Bird flu detected in chicken breeding facility

A commercial chicken breeding facility in south-central Tennessee has been hit by a strain of bird flu, agriculture officials said this week.

The state Agriculture Department said in a news release that tests confirmed the presence of the H7 strain of Highly Pathogenic Avian Influenza, or HPAI, at a facility in Lincoln County. The facility alerted the state veterinarian's office on Friday about an increase in chicken deaths.

The statement did not name the facility. The facility and about 30 other poultry farms within about a six-mile radius of the site are under quarantine.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture said 73,500 chickens are in the facility's flock.

Officials said HPAI poses no risk to the food supply, and no affected chickens entered the food chain.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, HPAI can cause up to 100 percent mortality in flocks, often within 48 hours.

According to the Tennessee Poultry Association, there are more than 1,650 commercial broiler and breeder houses on more than 550 family farms in the state. The state ranks 13th nationally in broiler production and processing with more than 6 million birds per week at five plants.


Bighorn sheep transplanted in Wyoming 

State game managers transplanted about two dozen bighorn sheep from the Lovell area in northern Wyoming to near Rawlins in the south-central part of the state.

The Wyoming Game and Fish Department captured the sheep in the Devil's Canyon area and transplanted them last month to the Ferris-Seminoe area.

"Right now, we've got the habitat and they've got the surplus sheep; we might as well put the two together," explained Greg Hiatt, the Game and Fish's Sinclair-based wildlife biologist, who oversees the Ferris-Seminoe herd.

The Game and Fish Department wants to keep the Devil's Canyon herd between 140 and 210 animals. If the herd continues to grow, it could spread out and potentially mix with either domestic sheep in the area or another wild herd in Shell Canyon to the south — potentially exposing the Devil's Canyon herd to new diseases.


Proposed Mexico tariff could complicate agriculture trade 

Weld County, CO, is more than 700 miles from the closest Mexican border, but a proposed import tariff on the United States' southern neighbor leaves local agriculture commodities in a state of uncertainty.

At the end of January, President Donald Trump suggested a 20 percent tariff on all imports from Mexico to pay for his long-promised wall between the bordering countries.

The move could spark a trade war that would harm Weld producers if Mexico executed a retaliatory tax or implemented trade barriers. Local producers could lose the income they get from exporting goods to Mexico. The tax also could raise prices on products for consumers in both countries or limit the products they could purchase.

Tom Lipetzky, trade spokesman for the Colorado Department of Agriculture, said if the tariff was implemented, the U.S. could expect Mexico to retaliate by imposing similar tariffs on U.S. products being exported to Mexico.

Mexico is the second-highest export market for Colorado producers, according to the U.S. Department of Commerce, and losing that income would gouge producers already hurting from low commodities prices in the states. According to the U.S. Department of Commerce, Mexico imported $1 billion in goods from Colorado in 2015. That includes technology, food and ag products.

Top exports from Colorado include beef, potatoes and corn, according to the U.S. Department of Commerce. Lipetzky said dairy products and dry beans also are major exports to Mexico. All of those are prominent in Weld.


Lawmakers want feds to protect shade tobacco 

Members of Connecticut's congressional delegation want federal officials to enforce existing regulations on tobacco labeling, accusing foreign competitors of mislabeling their cigars as Connecticut shade tobacco.

U.S. Sen. Chris Murphy and Reps. John Larson and Joe Courtney, all Democrats, sent a letter to the acting commissioner and acting chairman of the FDA and Federal Trade Commission, seeking action.

Connecticut shade tobacco, which is used as a wrapper for premium cigars, is renowned worldwide. The lawmakers say the Connecticut shade tobacco seeds are now grown elsewhere in the Northeast, as well as in Ecuador and other parts of Latin America. They say the different soils and climate conditions can change the taste greatly.

They say labels contain the word "Connecticut" but unclear information about the tobacco's origin.


Plans for dam water release poses threat to fish 

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers says it will have to release more water than normal this year from a northern Idaho dam because of ample snowpack, but the move may negatively impact fish.

The Lewiston Tribune reported that the largest hydroelectric generator at the Dworshak Dam is down for repair work, and Corps officials will have to release massive amounts of water to avoid downstream flooding.

Water plunging from the dam's spillways creates high levels of dissolved gas, which has the potential to harm or kill fish. The fish that may be affected are from the Dworshak National Fish Hatchery and fall chinook fry in the Clearwater River.

The Corps plans to reduce outflows from the dam when juvenile fish are released from the hatchery this month and in April.