Ag Briefs: New cases of bird flu identified in three counties

Wisconsin State Farmer
Wisconsin briefs


New cases of bird flu identified in three counties

The Wisconsin Department of Agriculture, Trade and Consumer Protection (DATCP) has identified new cases of highly pathogenic avian influenza (HPAI) in Columbia, Polk and Sheboygan counties. DATCP and the USDA are working with animal health officials in response efforts.

HPAI has now been found in seven domestic flocks across Wisconsin since March, when the virus was first confirmed in the state. The latest cases were identified on April 14 in Columbia County, (backyard mixed species, 44 birds), Sheboygan County,  (backyard mixed species, 15 birds), and Polk County, (commercial poultry, 20,000 birds). Depopulation efforts are underway at each of the three locations.

“As avian influenza continues to affect poultry in Wisconsin and throughout the nation, we’re reminding flock owners that strong biosecurity is our best defense against this devastating disease,” said State Veterinarian Dr. Darlene Konkle in a news release. “We urge everyone working around poultry to increase their biosecurity measures and continue reporting signs of illness to help us prevent spread of the virus.”    

Anyone who would like to report increased mortality or signs of disease among domestic birds can contact DATCP at (608) 224-4872 (business hours) or (800) 943-0003 (after hours and weekends).


DNR restarts effort to set bacteria standards in groundwater

The state Department of Natural Resources has restarted efforts to set standards for bacteria in groundwater after conservatives on the agency's policy board thwarted the attempt in February.

The Wisconsin State Journal reports that the board on Wednesday authorized a public hearing and comment period on a new rule-making process to set groundwater standards for E. coli bacteria.

DNR officials spent two-and-a-half years developing rules setting groundwater standards for E. coli, PFAS chemicals and other pollutants but the board scrapped the work in February. The board's majority said then that they were concerned about the state getting ahead of federal regulators setting PFAS standards as well as the cost of compliance.

The board's vote Wednesday gives the department until Sept. 21, 2024 to submit a new rule to the Legislature.


N.D. blizzard hits during calving season

A spring blizzard dumed heavy, wet snow over much of North Dakota.  State Farm Bureau President Daryl Lies told Brownfield Ag News the storm moved in from the southwest and lasted until late Thursday.

"We’re hearing reports of anywhere from 12 to 20 inches of snow in that area down there. We’re already up to 15 to 20 in areas of central North Dakota and it was still snowing and blowing hard (at the time),” he told the news outlet.


Fire contained at California food plant; evacuations remain

Firefighters have contained a massive blaze at a central California food processing plant that prompted authorities to tell thousands of nearby residents to evacuate and to order tens of thousands more to stay inside their homes, Associated Press reported.

The fire at the Taylor Farms packaged salad plant in Salinas started the evening of April 14. Authorities initially said they feared the fire could generate an explosion and a plume of hazardous ammonia.

About 2,700 people near the plant were evacuated and 35,000 were told to stay inside with windows closed. Those orders were lifted Thursday afternoon.


Bird flu outbreak in S.D. three times worse than in 2015

South Dakota’s avian flu outbreak is more than triple the size of a similar outbreak in 2015, and through the first week of April more than 1.25 million birds have been destroyed after outbreaks were detected among state poultry producers, Sioux Falls Argus Leader reported.

So far, the virus has been detected at 32 premises, more than triple the number in 2015, said Dr. Mendel Miller, an assistant state veterinarian with the South Dakota Animal Industry Board. This year’s outbreak has infected flocks in 14 East River counties that stretch from south to north.