Sunday, August 19, 2012

Poultry company defends W.Va. fertilizer ban

Excerpt: 8/18/12 CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- An international poultry breeding company said last week it wants to ban litter-based fertilizers around its West Virginia farms because they can spread disease that may harm birds and people. "Our concern is with the use of poultry litter on land within a three-mile radius of our turkey farms," Sandi Hofmann, Aviagen's marketing and administration director, said in a statement to the Sunday Gazette-Mail. "Poultry litter can harbor pathogens that may not be killed by treatment, and some treatments can even give false negative results when the litter is tested," Hofmann said. "Establishing a quarantine zone around Aviagen's turkey farms is important to keep these pathogens from being introduced via the air, dust, beetles or rodents." -snip- "Aviagen Turkeys takes its responsibility in the food supply chain seriously and realizes that keeping pathogens out of the food chain begins with the primary breeder," Hofmann said. "Our key focus is to keep flocks free from all infections including Avian influenza, salmonella and mycoplasma. If a flock or farm tests positive, the company could face quarantines or export restrictions. "Therefore, the company has a rigorous bio-security program designed to prevent the introduction of these pathogens onto its farms. The implementation of strict protocols on the movement of people, stock and equipment within the production operation ensures that the risk of infection is considerably reduced. "Having poultry litter spread on land around the turkey farms would add a level of risk that we can't afford to take," Hoffman warned. Dr. Robert Edson, Aviagen's vice president of operations in Lewisburg, said the three diseases "are of little danger to human beings. But they affect the animals. Avian influenza would do two things. The milder stages would cause the turkey breeding hens to stop laying eggs. "The more important impact would be that if our turkeys should be infected with Avain influenza, our international trading partners would quarantine our operations and not buy our products. One outbreak in West Virginia could have a serious impact on our trade situation," Edson said during a telephone interview Wednesday. "Our international trading partners expect us to have a salmonella-negative product," Edson added. "So we strive to keep our farms chain salmonella-negative in hatching turkeys for breeding stock." Edson also said, "We are not against the sale of litter-based fertilizers. We are not trying to impose any kind of trade embargo on anybody." He said the company only wants to keep possible contamination from those fertilizers away from its breeding operations near Lewisburg. [click on title for full article]

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