Gov. Josh Shapiro and the Pennsylvania Department of Agriculture (PDA) announced today that Pennsylvania has reached HPAI-free status, which is recognized by the World Animal Health Organization. This comes after four-consecutive weeks of no cases after the final farm in quarantine was released from testing Aug. 1.
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 began.
HPAI outbreaks in Pennsylvania affected 31 commercial flocks, 36 backyard flocks and caused the loss of more than 4.6 million domestic birds.
“Pennsylvania’s coordinated, aggressive, and effective response to the high-path avian influenza outbreak has brought us to this point,” Agriculture Secretary Russell Redding said in a news release. “Planning, coordination, and critical partnerships forged among every level of the industry, working in concert with two Pennsylvania government administrations, including PDA 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 2023-24 budget signed earlier this month by Shapiro increases funding for the Pennsylvania Department of Agriculture by more than 6 percent, with funds allocated to support agricultural emergency preparedness and response, which includes $31 million to help poultry farmers impacted by HPAI pay for testing and get reimbursed for losses to their flocks.
PDA 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.
Pennsylvania remains under a general quarantine to protect the state’s poultry industry from the spread of the virus. PDA 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.
“Pennsylvania Farm Bureau wants to thank everyone involved for their hard work which was necessary for Pennsylvania to achieve HPAI-free status,” said Chris Hoffman, President of Pennsylvania Farm Bureau. “While this is certainly a welcomed development, we urge poultry farmers to continue to be vigilant and to not let their guard down in fighting this virus. Farm Bureau members will continue to reach out to their neighbors, commercial producers, and backyard flock owners alike, to maintain robust biosecurity measures to try and ensure we remain HPAI free.”
To stay up to date on highly pathogenic avian influenza, visit pfb.com/hpai, or follow @PFBRegAffairs on Twitter.