Nebraskans may soon be paying less for eggs at the grocery store as egg production operations across the state and elsewhere are recovering from last year’s outbreak of avian influenza.
That outbreak sent egg prices skyward, but the number of laying hens nationally is now approaching pre-flu levels.
As a result, USDA economist Annemarie Kuhns says retail egg prices are dropping.
Kuhns says, “Really, what we’ve been seeing is just, we’re expecting a recovery more quickly than we initially anticipated, a recovery from the highly-pathogenic avian influenza last year.”
She says the USDA expects retail egg prices to fall 9-to-10% this year compared to the average 2015 price.
One-point-seven millon chickens had to be destroyed last year after two flocks in northeast Nebraska’s Dixon County were confirmed infected with bird flu.
The hearts of many Nebraska producers likely skipped a beat with the news last week of a new bird flu outbreak in neighboring Missouri.
Officials say 39,000 turkeys were destroyed on a farm in the southwest area of Missouri as a precaution.
Iowa Ag Secretary Bill Northey reassures producers everywhere this Missouri case is -not- an indication the deadly avian flu is returning.
“The virus that went through Missouri is a different virus and it’s a low pathogenic — meaning it is just making the birds sick – not killing them,” Northey says. “But in that effort to make sure that nothing got out of hand, they went ahead and put those birds down.”
Reports say the Missouri virus is the H5N1 strain, not the H5N2 version which killed so many birds in the region last year.