30 August 2023- Today, Governor Josh Shapiro and the Pennsylvania Department of Agriculture announced that Pennsylvania has reached the critical milestone of HPAI-free status recognized by the World Animal Health Organization. The designation marks a return to normal international trade conditions for Pennsylvania’s $7.1 billion poultry industry for the first time since April 2022, when the outbreak of the current strain began, affecting 31 commercial flocks, 36 backyard flocks, and causing the loss of 4,648,240 domestic birds.
Since taking office in January, the Shapiro Administration has been focused on supporting Pennsylvania farmers by deploying a team of over 170 experts to help conduct testing and improve security measures on farms across the Commonwealth. A response team made up of hundreds of veterinarians and specialists from the PA Department of Agriculture, U.S. Department of Agriculture, Penn State Extension, and PennAg Industries worked side by side with poultry businesses to achieve this critical “HPAI-Free” milestone in Pennsylvania.
“Hi-Path Avian Influenza is one of the most significant animal public health emergencies in American history. I am proud of this Administration’s coordinated and aggressive response to reach this critical disease-free milestone today,” said Governor Josh Shapiro. “In March I visited Silver Valley Farm in Lancaster and pledged that my Administration would double down on our efforts to support farmers and reduce the spread of Avian Flu – and that’s exactly what we did. My Administration stands with Pennsylvania’s farmers, in good times and bad — that’s why my budget includes crucial support for farmers impacted by the avian influenza crisis. My Administration is standing with them and working every single day to protect their flocks, because when our farmers succeed, Pennsylvania succeeds.”
The commonsense, bipartisan budget Governor Shapiro signed earlier this month increases funding for the Agriculture Department by nearly 6.4%, supporting agricultural emergency preparedness and response, including $31 million to help poultry farmers impacted by the hi-path avian influenza crisis pay for testing and get reimbursed for losses to their flocks.
The budget also invests $1 million in funding the Center for Livestock and Poultry Excellence at PennAg Industries — a critical partner in providing the equipment, personnel, training, and research funding which have been critical in Pennsylvania’s response to the virus outbreak.
“Pennsylvania’s coordinated, aggressive, and effective response to the hi-path avian influenza outbreak has brought us to this point,” Agriculture Secretary Russell Redding said. “Planning, coordination, and critical partnerships forged among every level of the industry, working in concert with two Pennsylvania government administrations, including the Department and PA Veterinary Diagnostic Lab System, the USDA, and Penn State Extension, have made the difference in minimizing the impact of what has been the costliest animal agriculture emergency in U.S. history. The continuing support of Governor Shapiro and the General Assembly through quick, responsive funding to support the response and cushion the blows to the industry have kept Pennsylvania poultry thriving amid immense, unprecedented challenges.”
The Department is currently reviewing applications for the fifth round of Highly Pathogenic Avian Influenza Recovery Reimbursement Grants to reimburse those in the industry for the costs of enhanced biosecurity to protect against the virus.
The last confirmed infection of the current strain of highly pathogenic avian flu in Pennsylvania was March 17, 2023, in Lancaster County. Specific restrictions on every farm where infections had been confirmed were lifted in early August.
“Today’s announcement represents a critical breakthrough in our fight against HPAI and an important step forward for the poultry farmers who have been impacted by this disease – including those I represent in Lancaster County,” said Senator Scott Martin. This win was only possible through bipartisan cooperation between the governor’s office, the legislature, the Department of Agriculture and other key stakeholders. I am grateful we have been able to work together to support our poultry industry when they needed us most.”
Pennsylvania remains under a general quarantine to protect the state’s poultry industry from the spread of the virus. The Department continues testing and monitoring statewide. Despite no detections of the most infectious strain of virus in recent months in Pennsylvania, detections of the virus in surrounding states indicate that the threat to the industry warrants continued vigilance, especially as wild bird migration season approaches.
Poultry producers should continue to implement strict biosecurity practices at all times, monitor bird health, and report any unexplained illnesses and deaths in a flock to 717-772-2852.
Find more information about avian influenza and protecting your flock at agriculture.pa.gov.
For more information on the investments made in Pennsylvania’s commonsense, bi-partisan budget visit shapirobudget.pa.gov.