May 14, 2015 - 11:55 am - Posted in News, School News

Sheldon, Iowa — Four Sheldon Community High School seniors were awarded scholarships at a ceremony held Wednesday at Sheldon High School.

The John N. and Irene E. Bowers Scholarships are awarded each year to two graduating Sheldon High School seniors who will be pursuing degrees in nursing, and two who plan to pursue degrees in teaching.  Each of the four recipients receives a $3,000 scholarship.  Recipients are selected each year by the Sheldon Education Foundation from recommendations by the Selection Committee.

The scholarship winners from the Sheldon High School Class of 2015 for nursing are Kelsey Den Hartog, the daughter of Wayne and Debbie Den Hartog, and Shayla Van Meeteren,the daughter of Gary and Natalie Van Meeteren.  The winners planning to pursue teaching careers are Emma Beahler, the daughter and Blake and Sara Beahler, and Samantha Kleinwolterink, the daughter of Leon and Carla Kleinwolterink.

May 12, 2015 - 5:45 pm - Posted in News

Des Moines, Iowa — Three more probable cases of bird flu and one confirmed case are being reported. Two of them are in our area, and the first case from Lyon County has now been reported. chickens With these new announcements, Iowa now has 49 cases of the disease in the state. The Iowa Department of Agriculture and Land Stewardship has quarantined the premises and once the presence of the disease is confirmed, all birds on the properties will be humanely euthanized to prevent the spread of the disease.

  • Buena Vista 14– A layer pullet farm that has experienced increased mortality.  An estimate on the number of birds at the site is still pending.  Initial testing showed it positive for H5 avian influenza.  Additional confirmatory testing is pending from the APHIS National Veterinary Services Laboratories (NVSL) in Ames.
  • Buena Vista 15– Turkey farm that has experienced increased mortality.  An estimate on the number of birds at the site is still pending. Initial testing showed it positive for H5 avian influenza.  Additional confirmatory testing is pending from the APHIS National Veterinary Services Laboratories (NVSL) in Ames.
  • Lyon 1- Commercial laying operation that has experienced increased mortality. An estimate on the number of birds at the site is still pending. Initial testing showed it positive for H5 avian influenza.  Additional confirmatory testing is pending from the APHIS National Veterinary Services Laboratories (NVSL) in Ames.
  • Osceola 4– Broiler farm with an estimated 700 birds that has experienced increased mortality.  Confirmatory testing by the APHIS National Veterinary Services Laboratories (NVSL) in Ames showed the birds positive for H5N2 highly pathogenic avian influenza.

As the Department receives final confirmations of the disease updated information will be posted to the Iowa Department of Agriculture and Land Stewardship’s website at www.iowaagriculture.gov/avianinfluenza.asp. The Center for Disease Control (CDC) and Iowa Department of Public Health considers the risk to people from these HPAI H5 infections in wild birds, backyard flocks and commercial poultry, to be low.  No human infections with the virus have ever been detected and there is no food safety risk for consumers. IOWA CONCERN HOTLINE AVAILABLE TO ADDRESS AVIAN INFLUENZA QUESTIONS Concerned residents both within and outside the areas affected by avian influenza are encouraged to use the Iowa Concern Hotline at 1-800-447-1985 if they have questions or need disaster counseling. The Iowa Concern Hotline is available 24 hours a day. All calls are free and confidential, and the operators are willing to assist wherever possible.   Iowa State University Extension and Outreach operates the hotline and is partnering with the Iowa Department of Agriculture and Land Stewardship, theIowa Department of Health, Iowa Department of Natural Resources, IowaHomeland Security and Emergency Management Department and Egg Industry Council to provide up-to-date information to Iowans about the disease.     UPDATE ON ACTIVIES OF STATE GOVERNMENT AGENCIES IN RESPONSE TO AVIAN INFLUENZA   Iowa Department of Agriculture and Land Stewardship (IDALS)

  • Quarantining all infected sites
  • Subject to facilities implementing nationally approved biosecurity measures, the Dept. permits the movement of materials such as feed and other supplies on and off of infected sites
  • Leading efforts to monitor poultry within a 10-kilometer circle of each infected site
  • Coordinating state communication efforts on the disease
  • Working with federal and state officials to ensure the humane depopulation and disposal of all birds from infected sites

Iowa Homeland Security and Emergency Management Department (HSEMD)

  • Coordinating partial activation of the State Emergency Operations Center (SEOC) with several state agencies, including the Iowa Departments of Agricultureand Land Stewardship, Public Health, Natural Resources, Transportation, Public Safety, Inspections and Appeals and the Iowa National Guard. USDA, IowaTurkey Federation and Iowa Poultry Association are also present at the SEOC.
  • Conducting daily coordination meetings with IDALS, the governor’s office and other partner agencies to bring all up to date, and to discuss planning and needs. Other agencies involved include Iowa Dept. of Public Health, Iowa Dept. of Transportation, Iowa Dept. of Corrections, Iowa Dept. of Natural Resources, IowaDept. of Public Safety, Iowa National Guard, Iowa Dept. of Human Services, IowaDept. of Inspections and Appeals.
  • Providing resource support coordination as requested.
  • Regularly providing information for situational awareness with county emergency management coordinators.
  • Providing support for IDALS communications activities.

Iowa Department of Public Health (IDPH) – in conjunction with local public health officials

  • Sharing CDC recommendations on the use of personal protective equipment by persons working directly with sick chickens and carcasses.
  • Following up with workers who had direct contact with sick birds without the use of personal protective equipment.
  • Providing sound risk information, making sure the public understands that the virus presents no food safety concern or risk to the general public.

Iowa Department of Natural Resources (DNR)

  • DNR Air Quality has issued two variances for portable incinerators.  The DNR has also issued a variance for a thermal treatment unit.
  • The DNR’s primary concern is that disposal methods protect surface water, groundwater and air quality and does not result in further spreading of the AI virus
  • Investigating the feasibility and the potential benefits and problems associated with various disposal options including landfilling, composting, incinerating, and burying.
  • Looking at potential criteria for emergency air permits if needed for the incineration process.
  • Working with contacts at several landfills to determine the ability of those operations to take dead poultry as well as being able to wash and disinfect transport vehicles on site.
  • Investigating and maintaining contact with wastewater treatment facilities on the ability to accept and adequately treat leachate  produced by any landfill for the AI virus that may take dead poultry.
  • Developed solid waste acceptance criteria for landfills willing to accept AI infected poultry.
  • Contacted numerous potential sources of wood chips that can be used for composting. The wood chips would be used as part of the composting process.  The DNR has issued several variances to facilities to expand wood chipping capacity.
  • Preparing maps of infected facilities that show quarantine boundaries and to determine the proximity of other poultry operations and neighbors.
  • Investigating the geology involved with operations to determine the optimum potential locations for burial if needed.
  • Working with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to conduct sampling of waterfowl for AI.

Iowa Department of Human Services (DHS)

  • Communicated to the Disaster Behavioral Health Response Team (DBHRT) that volunteers were needed to assist with damage assessment surveying in the northwest region.  Three DBHRT members did volunteer to assist.
  • The Division of Mental Health and Disability Services (MHDS) is responding to requests from Buena Vista and Kossuth counties for mental health support; a plan is being structured in collaboration with businesses in Buena Vista and Kossuth counties.
  • MHDS is in communication with Iowa Concern staff who are taking calls from people with concerns relating to the Avian flu.  If calls are received from people who need additional support, contact will be made to MHDS and a plan will be put in place utilizing either local resources or DBHRT support.

Iowa Department of Transportation (IDOT)

  • Water hauling to assist with USDA operations continues.
  • Motor Carrier Services has provided a contact number for carriers that are transporting poultry carcasses up to 90,000 lbs to contact them for routing directions; directions are good for 24 hours.
  • Districts have applied dust control to gravel shoulders along Highways 3, 17, and 69 in Wright County.
  • Established permitting requirements for carriers transporting carcasses up to 90,000 lbs.
  • Working to craft messaging to be placed on the 511 and the 511 truckers page as to what to do if drivers will be hauling poultry products in Iowa.
  • Contacted Turkey and Poultry Associations to notify counterparts in neighboring states to be aware of Iowa’s travel restrictions of poultry products.

Iowa Department of Public Safety (DPS)

  • Providing liaison at Wright County emergency operations center

Background Information The United States has the strongest Avian Influenza (AI) surveillance program in the world.  As part of the existing USDA avian influenza response plans, Federal and State partners as well as industry are responding quickly and decisively to these outbreaks by following these five basic steps: 1) Quarantine – restricting movement of poultry and poultry-moving equipment into and out of the control area; 2) Eradicate – humanely euthanizing the affected flock(s); 3) Monitor region – testing wild and domestic birds in a broad area around the quarantine area; 4)  Disinfect – kills the virus in the affected flock locations; and 5) Test – confirm that poultry farms in the area are free of the virus. The Iowa Department of Agriculture and Land Stewardship in partnership with theIowa Department of Public Health are working directly with poultry workers at the affected facility to ensure proper precautions are being taken. These virus strains can travel in wild birds without those birds appearing sick. People should avoid contact with sick/dead poultry or wildlife. If contact occurs, wash your hands with soap and water and change clothing before having any contact with healthy domestic poultry and birds. All bird owners, whether commercial producers or backyard flock owners, should continue to practice good biosecurity, prevent contact between their birds and wild birds, and report sick birds or unusual bird deaths to state/federal officials, either through their state veterinarian at 515-281-5321 or through USDA’s toll-free number at 1-866-536-7593. Information will also be posted to the Iowa Department of Agriculture and LandStewardship’s website at www.iowaagriculture.gov/avianinfluenza.asp.

May 8, 2015 - 5:44 pm - Posted in News
liquid manure honeywagon houle

file photo

Melvin, Iowa — A plugged liquid manure line gets the blame for a spill of 14,000 gallons of the natural fertilizer near Melvin on Wednesday.

The Iowa Department of Natural Resources says an estimated 14,000 gallons of liquid manure was released Wednesday from an 1,800 head hog confinement owned by D&L Swine LLC west of Melvin. To put that into perspective, according to their specifications, that’s about as much manure as would fill two normal-sized liquid manure tanks.

The DNR reports the release occurred when a line from the confinement building to the lagoon became plugged causing the liquid manure to run across the ground surface to a tile intake that outlets to an unnamed tributary to the Floyd River.

DNR officials say the owner responded by placing large hay bales in the waterway downstream from the tile outlet. The liquid manure is being pumped back into the lagoon and the tile line is being flushed. They say pumping will continue until the ammonia levels in the contained part of the stream return to normal. No fish kill occurred because the stream was too shallow for fish along the approximately one-fourth of a mile of waterway.

The DNR says the spill was reported by the owners of the facility.

Environmental specialists from the DNR were on the scene Wednesday and Thursday to monitor the cleanup efforts.

May 8, 2015 - 5:05 pm - Posted in News

Northwest Iowa — The school start date debate was settled in April. Now, a month later, most northwest Iowa school boards have chosen a district start date.
chevy school bus_sxc
Iowa Governor Terry Branstad signed Iowa’s new “school start date” policy into law on April 10th.

There had been a law on the books for over 30 years that said school is supposed to start the week that includes the first of September, but the Department of Education was routinely granting waivers that let schools start earlier and earlier. Branstad said that led to the point where some schools were starting in the early part of August, which was causing a lot of concerns for a lot of Iowa families. The bill Branstad signed into law sets August 23rd as the earliest date Iowa schools may start the fall semester.

In our part of northwest Iowa, all but two public school districts have set their fall start date.

This year, that August 23rd date happens to be a Sunday. Starting on the first possible day, Monday, August 24th, will be Harris-Lake Park and South O’Brien. Starting on Tuesday, August 25th, will be George Little Rock, Rock Valley, and Sioux Center. Starting on Wednesday, August 26th, will be Central Lyon, MOC/FV, Sheldon, Sibley Ocheyedan, and West Sioux. Bucking the trend will be West Lyon. Their students won’t have to report to school until Monday, August 31st.

The Boyden Hull school board will talk about what day to start school at their meeting this Monday, May 11. The Hartley-Melvin-Sanborn School Board will discuss the issue at their Monday, May 18th meeting.

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May 8, 2015 - 5:04 pm - Posted in News

Greenville, Iowa –iowa state capitol sva One of the bills still pending in the Iowa Legislature would limit the use of eminent domain authority to acquire property for the Rock Island Clean Line wind energy powerline and the Dakota Access Bakken crude oil pipeline, which are planned in northwest Iowa.

If the bill becomes law, developers of the pipeline and the powerline would have to get voluntary property rights agreements from 75 percent of landowners before they could use eminent domain to seize the rest of the land. Carolyn Sheridan, a farmer from Greenville, which is near Spencer, founded the Preservation of Rural Iowa Alliance a couple of years ago to lobby against the Rock Island Clean Line. She says the effort to limit eminent domain authority is gaining steam because now there are two projects.

(as said) “Bipartisan support comes now because there are 17 additional counties in the state that would be impacted by the pipeline, the Bakken pipeline, and the same process will be used, eminent domain, to take private property,” Sheridan says. “The legislators have gotten together and are trying to change some outdated laws.”

The 2015 legislative session is winding down, though — perhaps concluding later this month, and Sheridan’s group is hoping this bill gets debated in the House and Senate.

(as said) “So we’re busy contacting legislators, making sure they have the facts,” Sheridan says. “There’s lobbyists working for us because when things move quickly in the House and Senate, part of the trouble can be getting good information out, making sure people have good background information.”

The bill Sheridan’s group supports cleared a senate committee earlier this week. Lobbyists for the two energy projects say it would be wrong for legislators to make “retroactive” changes to eminent domain authority since developers have been following existing law as they’ve been planning the projects. The governor’s former chief of staff is a lobbyist for the pipeline developers. Last year the governor’s economic development director embraced the Rock Island Clean Line project, saying it’s “an important infrastructure project that needs to occur.”

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May 4, 2015 - 6:32 pm - Posted in News

Des Moines, Iowa — The Iowa Department of Agriculture and Land Stewardship is responding to four probable cases of highly pathogenic avian influenza (HPAI) in commercial poultry farms in Buena Vista, Cherokee and Wright counties. These four new cases would join 21 cases of the disease in Iowa that were previously announced. State officials have quarantined the premises and once the presence of the disease is confirmed, all birds on the property will be humanely euthanized to prevent the spread of the disease.turkeys

Buena Vista 7 – Turkey farm that has experienced increased mortality. An estimate on the number of birds at the site is still pending. Initial testing showed it positive for H5 avian influenza. Additional confirmatory testing is pending from the APHIS National Veterinary Services Laboratories (NVSL) in Ames.

Cherokee 2 – Turkey farm that has experienced increased mortality. An estimate on the number of birds at the site is still pending. Initial testing showed it positive for H5 avian influenza. Additional confirmatory testing is pending from the APHIS National Veterinary Services Laboratories (NVSL) in Ames.

Wright – Commercial laying operation with an estimated 2.8 million birds that has experienced increased mortality. Initial testing showed it positive for H5 avian influenza. Additional confirmatory testing is pending from the APHIS National Veterinary Services Laboratories (NVSL) in Ames.

Buena Vista 8 – Turkey farm that has experienced increased mortality. An estimate on the number of birds at the site is still pending. Initial testing showed it positive for H5 avian influenza. Additional confirmatory testing is pending from the APHIS National Veterinary Services Laboratories (NVSL) in Ames.

As the Department receives final confirmations of the disease updated information will be posted to the Iowa Department of Agriculture and Land Stewardship’s website at www.iowaagriculture.gov/avianinfluenza.asp.

The Center for Disease Control (CDC) and Iowa Department of Public Health considers the risk to people from these HPAI H5 infections in wild birds, backyard flocks and commercial poultry, to be low. No human infections with the virus have ever been detected and there is no food safety risk for consumers.

IOWA CONCERN HOTLINE AVAILABLE TO ADDRESS AVIAN INFLUENZA QUESTIONS

Concerned residents both within and outside the areas affected by avian influenza are encouraged to use the Iowa Concern Hotline at 1-800-447-1985 if they have questions. The Iowa Concern Hotline is available 24 hours a day. All calls are free and confidential, and the operators are willing to assist wherever possible.

Iowa State University Extension and Outreach operates the hotline and is partnering with the Iowa Department of Agriculture and Land Stewardship, the Iowa Department of Health, Iowa Department of Natural Resources, Iowa Homeland Security and Emergency Management Department and Egg Industry Council to provide up-to-date information to Iowans about the disease.

UPDATE ON ACTIVIES OF STATE GOVERNMENT AGENCIES IN RESPONSE TO AVIAN INFLUENZA

Iowa Department of Agriculture and Land Stewardship (IDALS)

  • Quarantined all infected sites
  • Subject to facilities implementing nationally approved biosecurity measures, the Dept. permits the movement of materials such as feed and other supplies on and off of infected sites
  • Leading efforts to monitor poultry within a 10 kilometer circle of each infected site
  • Coordinating state communication efforts on the disease
  • Working with federal and state officials to ensure the humane depopulation and disposal of all birds from infected sites

 

Iowa Homeland Security and Emergency Management Department (HSEMD)

  • Conducted coordination meetings with IDALS, the governor’s office and other partner agencies to bring all up to date, and to brainstorm planning and coordination needs. Other agencies at the meeting included Iowa Dept. of Public Health, Iowa Dept. of Transportation, Iowa Dept. of Corrections, Iowa Dept. of Natural Resources, Iowa Dept. of Public Safety, Iowa National Guard, Iowa Dept. of Human Services, Iowa Dept. of Inspections and Appeals.
  • Provide resource support coordination as requested.
  • Regularly providing information for situational awareness with county emergency management coordinators.
  • Providing support for IDALS communications activities.

 

Iowa Department of Public Health (IDPH) – in conjunction with local public health officials

  • Shared CDC recommendations on the use of personal protective equipment by persons working directly with sick chickens and carcasses.
  • Followed up with workers who had direct contact with sick birds without the use of personal protective equipment.
  • Provided sound risk information, making sure the public understands that the virus presents no food safety concern or risk to the general public.

Iowa Department of Natural Resources (DNR)

  • The DNR’s primary concern is that disposal methods protect surface water, groundwater and air quality and does not result in further spreading of the AI virus
  • Investigating the feasibility and the potential benefits and problems associated with various disposal options including landfilling, composting, incinerating, rendering and burying.
  • Looking at potential criteria for emergency air permits if needed for an incineration process.
  • Made contacts with several landfills to determine the ability of those operations to take dead poultry as well as being able to wash and disinfect transport vehicles on site.
  • Investigating and been in contact with wastewater treatment facilities on the ability to accept and adequately treat leachate produced by any landfill for the AI virus that may take dead poultry.
  • Developed solid waste acceptance criteria for landfills willing to accept AI infected poultry.
  • Contacted numerous potential sources of wood chips that can be used if composting becomes an option. The wood chips would be used as part of the composting process.
  • Prepared maps of infected facilities that show quarantine boundaries and to determine the proximity of other poultry operations and neighbors.
  • Investigating the geology involved with operations to determine the optimum potential locations for burial if needed.
  • Working with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to conduct sampling of waterfowl for AI.

 

Iowa Department of Corrections (DOC)

  • Identified staff for surveillance teams.

Iowa Department of Human Services (DHS)

  • Monitoring for mental health needs.
  • Identified staff for surveillance teams.

Iowa Department of Transportation (IDOT)

  • Hauling water to support USDA operations.

Iowa Department of Public Safety (DPS)

  • Liaison at Wright County emergency operations center

Background Information
The United States has the strongest Avian Influenza (AI) surveillance program in the world. As part of the existing USDA avian influenza response plans, Federal and State partners as well as industry are responding quickly and decisively to these outbreaks by following these five basic steps: 1) Quarantine – restricting movement of poultry and poultry-moving equipment into and out of the control area; 2) Eradicate – humanely euthanizing the affected flock(s); 3) Monitor region – testing wild and domestic birds in a broad area around the quarantine area; 4) Disinfect – kills the virus in the affected flock locations; and 5) Test – confirm that poultry farms in the area are free of the virus.

The Iowa Department of Agriculture and Land Stewardship in partnership with the Iowa Department of Public Health are working directly with poultry workers at the affected facility to ensure proper precautions are being taken.

These virus strains can travel in wild birds without those birds appearing sick. People should avoid contact with sick/dead poultry or wildlife. If contact occurs, wash your hands with soap and water and change clothing before having any contact with healthy domestic poultry and birds.

All bird owners, whether commercial producers or backyard flock owners, should continue to practice good biosecurity, prevent contact between their birds and wild birds, and report sick birds or unusual bird deaths to state/federal officials, either through their state veterinarian at 515-281-5321 or through USDA’s toll-free number at 1-866-536-7593.

Information will also be posted to the Iowa Department of Agriculture and Land Stewardship’s website at www.iowaagriculture.gov/avianinfluenza.asp.

May 1, 2015 - 11:28 pm - Posted in News

Des Moines, Iowa — With the number of cases of the bird flu mounting in Iowa’s chicken and turkey facilities, Governor Terry Branstad on Friday took action to bring in more resources to help in the fight.

Iowa Governor Terry Branstad

Iowa Governor Terry Branstad

(as he says)”As the virus continues to spread, I decided that declaring a state of emergency for the entire state of Iowa was necessary,” Branstad says.

The emergency proclamation activates the Iowa Homeland Security and Emergency Management emergency response plan.

(as he says)”The disaster proclamation allows agencies to better utilize more resources to help respond to these contaminations as well as plan and enforce travel routes for vehicle hauling products relating to poultry and turkeys,” Branstad says.

Iowa Agriculture Secretary Bill Northey joined the governor and says the disaster declaration means they will continue increasing biosecurity measures.

(as he says)”We’ve been working with U-S-D-A and will be providing some enhanced biosecurity guidelines that anyone who has or works with poultry should consider,” Northey says. “This includes treating all commercial poultry sites as potentially positive of high path avian influenza — so it’s important to control access.”

Northey announced another four facilities today (Friday) that are suspected of being infected and that includes another one million laying hens.

(as he says)”We are about 16 million birds that have been affected here –layers in Iowa — that’s out of about 59 to 60 million layers. So, about one-quarter of the state’s flock is on infected farms,” according to Northey.

He says the birds from the infected farms are destroyed and they are working to safely dispose of the animals.

(as he says)”In some cases, the turkey operations, many of those are composted within the barns that those turkeys actually live in. In other cases we are seeing some composting outside the layer operations. We are seeing and likely to see more burial on those farms as well. We may well see some landfill options in some cases as well,” Northey says. “In these cases, these birds are put into a plastic bag and completely sealed and hauled to a landfill.”

Governor Branstad says the sheer number of birds makes the clean up difficult.

(as he says)”I think that’s one of the challenges, is first of all it’s a huge problem and it’s gonna take some time,” according to Branstad. “It’s easier I think with the turkeys than it’s going to be with the laying hens that are in these cages, and trying to get the dead hens out of these cages when you have in some cases millions of them. That’s gonna be a big challenge.”

Branstad says that’s whey they are putting some of the restrictions on travel are to ensure trucks loaded down with the dead birds don’t travel on roads and bridges that can’t handle the weight. Branstad is the state’s longest serving governor and says he hasn’t seen an outbreak this severe.

(as he says)”Not in the years that I have been involved in state government have we had a disaster situation, affecting in this case our poultry and turkeys like this,” Branstad says. “This is a magnitude much greater than anything we’ve dealt with in recent modern times.”

Branstad says the emergency declaration isn’t necessarily an indication they think the disease will spread clear across the state.

(as he says)”Well you got one in Kossuth County which is north-central and you’ve got one in Madison County. Most of them have been in northwest Iowa, but obviously the people in Wright County where they have a lot of birds have been concerned about this. And we felt considering that we’ve got it in Wisconsin and Minnesota — and I guess there’s been some in other states like South Dakota — that it just made sense to go with a statewide disaster declaration,” Branstad says.

The governor says the outbreak will have a big impact on the farm economy that has already been suffering from a drop in income. But Branstad and Northey both declined to give an estimate on the dollar amount of damage. The disease usually slows once temperatures warm and they say they want to wait and see what happens before trying to add up the cost.

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April 30, 2015 - 3:44 pm - Posted in News

Ames, Iowa — Avian influenza does not impact the foods that consumers eat, says an Iowa State University food safety expert.
fried egg
Dr. Angela Shaw, assistant professor in food science and human nutrition and extension specialist in food safety says that consumers should feel safe to eat properly-cooked and prepared meat and eggs from poultry.

She says the disease is caused by an influenza virus that can infect poultry, such as chickens, turkeys, domestic ducks and geese, and is carried by migratory birds such as ducks, geese and shorebirds. She says it’s technically not impossible for humans to be infected with the virus, but most cases involve very close direct contact with sick birds.

She says it doesn’t matter if you get your eggs and poultry meat from the store or direct from a farmer.

Shaw said the Food and Drug Administration maintains that properly-cooked poultry and eggs pose no threat. She advised that consumers always should follow the FDA’s procedures for safe handling and cooking of poultry products:

  • Wash hands with warm water and soap for at least 20 seconds before and after handling raw poultry and eggs.
  • Clean cutting boards and other utensils with soap and hot water to keep raw poultry or eggs from contaminating other foods.
  • Cutting boards may be sanitized by using a solution of 1 tablespoon chlorine bleach and 1 gallon of water.
  • Cook poultry to an internal temperature of at least 170°F. Consumers can cook poultry to a higher temperature for personal preference.
  • Cook eggs until the yolks and whites are firm. Casseroles and other dishes containing eggs should be cooked to 170°F.
  • Use pasteurized eggs or egg products for recipes that are served using raw or undercooked eggs. Some examples of these kinds of dishes are Caesar salad dressing and homemade ice cream. Commercial mayonnaise, dressing and sauces contain pasteurized eggs that are safe to eat. Pasteurized eggs and egg products are available from a growing number of retailers and are clearly labeled.

Shaw says she encourages people to continue to support poultry and egg farmers by eating eggs and poultry meat because, as she puts it, “it’s our livelihood.”

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The Egg Industry Center at Iowa State University has additional information for consumers at:  http://www.ans.iastate.edu/EIC/Templates/AvianInfluenzaConsumers.dwt

The ISU College of Veterinary Medicine has avian influenza information, including materials to protect backyard flocks, at:  http://vetmed.iastate.edu/aiv-background-and-resources

Angela Shaw, Food Science and Human Nutrition, (515) 294-0868,angelaml@iastate.edu
Ed Adcock, Agriculture and Life Sciences Communications Service, (515) 294-2314,edadcock@iastate.edu

April 28, 2015 - 5:03 pm - Posted in News

Northwest Iowa — Center Fresh Group, based out of Sioux Center, is the latest company to be hit by the avian bird flu. Of the 6 million laying hens involved in the five cases that were reported as infected on Monday by state and federal regulators, 5.5 million of those were from Center Fresh, with 1.7 million hens located at the Sioux County Egg Farm and 3.8 million hens at the Center Fresh Egg Farm.

Center Fresh is an egg supplier for a company owned by Post Holdings Co., commonly known for their cereal brands, Grape-Nuts, Raisin Bran and Honey Bunches of Oats, and is based out of St. Louis. A Post official confirmed on Wednesday that Center Fresh, a third-party supplier for Michael Foods, which is owned by Post and supplies ten percent of their eggs, was indeed affected by the avian bird flu.

Officials, both state and federal, are stressing the fact that there has never been a case reported in humans, and that it holds no threat to consumers as a food safety risk.

J.T. Dean, the chief financial officer for Center Fresh, said in a statement that they were “incorporating every precautionary measure available to protect (their) flocks” and that Center Fresh is working closely with state and federal regulators “as well as with our colleagues in the farming community, to take the necessary steps to limit the spread of this devastating disease.”

Dean went on to say, “our family has farms across Iowa, and we are committed to working tirelessly and devoting all needed resources to protect our remaining flocks from this disease. Heightened biosecurity protocols and greatly restricted access to farms will be critical to preventing any additional outbreaks.”

So far there have been eight facilities directly affected by the virus in Iowa, with a total of over 10 million birds, including laying hens, turkeys and pullets, needing to be destroyed. The U.S. Department of agriculture is working with the affected companies on how best to dispose of the birds.

While trying to determine how this disease is spreading, federal officials believe that farm workers may be carrying it on their clothing or shoes without realizing it, but it’s also possible that it’s moving on bird feathers or dust carried by the wind, something much more difficult to track.

Dean stated that “our family has spent our lives working to ensure the health and well-being of our flocks, and this news deeply affects all of us. The next few days will be difficult for our family, our employees and our community, and we are grateful for the support of so many during this time.”

Warm weather drastically reduces the ability for the virus to spread, and while this has been a big hit for Northwest Iowa and the surrounding states, as we get closer to summer we can hope to see this issue come to an end.

 

FIVE CONFIRMED CASES OF HIGHLY PATHOGENIC AVIAN INFLUENZA CONFIRMED IN OSCEOLA, O’BRIEN AND SIOUX COUNTIES

Northwest Iowa — According to the Iowa Department of Agriculture, the five possible cases of avian influenza reported on Monday afternoon — have been confirmed.

The agency’s web site says that the cases of highly pathogenic avian influenza (HPAI) in commercial poultry farms in Osceola, O’Brien and Sioux Counties in Northwest Iowa are now confirmed.  These five new cases join three cases of the disease in Iowa. All birds on the properties will be humanely euthanized to prevent the spread of the disease.
chickens
Osceola County 2 – Pullet farm with an estimated 250,000 birds.

O’Brien County 1 – Commercial laying operation with an estimated 240,000 birds that has experienced increased mortality.

O’Brien County 2 – Commercial laying operation with an estimated 98,000 birds that has experienced increased mortality.

Sioux County 1 – Commercial laying operation with an estimated 1.7 million birds that has experienced increased mortality.

Sioux County 2 – Commercial laying operation with an estimated 3.8 million birds that has experienced increased mortality.

The Center for Disease Control (CDC) and Iowa Department of Public Health considers the risk to people from these HPAI H5 infections in wild birds, backyard flocks and commercial poultry, to be low.  No human infections with the virus have ever been detected there is no food safety risk for consumers.

The United States has the strongest Avian Influenza (AI) surveillance program in the world.  As part of the existing USDA avian influenza response plans, Federal and State partners as well as industry are responding quickly and decisively to these outbreaks by following these five basic steps: 1) Quarantine – restricting movement of poultry and poultry-moving equipment into and out of the control area; 2) Eradicate – humanely euthanizing the affected flock(s); 3) Monitor region – testing wild and domestic birds in a broad area around the quarantine area; 4)  Disinfect – kills the virus in the affected flock locations; and 5) Test – confirm that poultry farms in the area are free of the virus.

The Iowa Department of Agriculture and Land Stewardship in partnership with the Iowa Department of Public Health are working directly with poultry workers at the affected facilities to ensure proper precautions are being taken.

These virus strains can travel in wild birds without those birds appearing sick. People should avoid contact with sick/dead poultry or wildlife. If contact occurs, wash your hands with soap and water and change clothing before having any contact with healthy domestic poultry and birds.

All bird owners, whether commercial producers or backyard flock owners, should continue to practice good biosecurity, prevent contact between their birds and wild birds, and report sick birds or unusual bird deaths to state/federal officials, either through their state veterinarian at 515-281-5321 or through USDA’s toll-free number at 1-866-536-7593.

Information will also be posted to the Iowa Department of Agriculture and Land Stewardship’s website at www.iowaagriculture.gov/avianinfluenza.asp.

April 27, 2015 - 6:26 pm - Posted in News
cap arms groundbreaking2

Photo credit: Mike Earll

Sibley, Iowa — Capital Armament Company broke ground Monday morning at the site of their future manufacturing facility, at the building site located at the junction of Highways 9 and 60, northeast of Sibley.

We had a chance to talk to Capital Armament CEO Clint Gerner and asked him his impressions of the groundbreaking ceremony.

He gives us an idea of what they’ll be doing in the new facility.

He gives us some particulars about the building, which will sit on a 23-and-a-half acre lot.

He says you can buy their products from several stores. They are working out a deal now with Scheels, and he says it’s undergoing remodeling right now, but their website also has factory-direct ordering.

Left to right: Nathan Reinhart, Clint Gerner, Chris McCann--Owners (Photo credit - Mike Earll)

Left to right on shovels: Owners Nathan Reinhart, Clint Gerner, Chris McCann (Photo credit – Mike Earll)

We asked him how they decided to come to Sibley. He said they needed to expand, but due to some Minnesota regulations they decided to move out of the state. He says the Sibley area leaders really get the credit for the company’s decision to move to Sibley.

Gerner says the “Home Base Iowa” initiative for veterans was also a perk, as they try to keep veterans as at least 50 percent of their workforce, and there are some nice incentives for them through “Home Base Iowa.

He says over the next three years they hope to hire for 36 new positions, with between 4 and 16 of them being hired this year depending on the market.

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