U.S. ends avian flu-related limits on Ont. poultry

Reuters — The U.S. Agriculture Department on Tuesday lifted restrictions on imports of poultry and poultry products from Ontario in the latest sign the farm sector is starting to recover from a severe outbreak of bird flu.

USDA limited imports from Ontario in April after a highly pathogenic (“high-path”) strain of H5N2 avian flu was detected on two turkey farms and a broiler operation in Oxford County.

Effective immediately, the restrictions will be removed on imports of products ranging from live poultry and research birds to hatching eggs, USDA said in a notice.

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The virus, which infected farms in British Columbia before appearing in southwestern Ontario, has killed more than 48 million turkeys and chickens in 15 U.S. states since late December.

Those losses have pushed U.S. egg prices to record highs and squeezed turkey supplies ahead of the Thanksgiving holiday.

No new infections of the virus have been found in the U.S. for more than two months, and some farmers whose flocks were affected have started the slow process of restocking barns.

For large egg producers, the rebuilding process could take up to two years.

The rebuilding process could last even longer if the virus re-emerges this fall when wild ducks, which carry the disease, begin their seasonal migrations.

Reporting for Reuters by Tom Polansek in Chicago.

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