Researchers work to improve poultry disease prevention and preparedness

The Foundation for Food and Agriculture Research, a nonprofit established in the 2014 farm bill with bipartisan congressional support, awarded $87,000 to University of Minnesota, where researchers will develop a nationwide tool to improve poultry disease prevention and preparedness. The FFAR grant has been matched with funding from the Minnesota Department of Agriculture for a total $183,000 investment.

One of the largest foreign disease outbreaks in poultry was attributed to H5N2 HPAI, a strain of avian influenza or “bird flu,” in 2014-2015, which resulted in the destruction of nearly 50 million birds and caused more than $3.75 billion in lost production, expenses attributed to disease control and loss of export markets. With a new online tool, researchers have partnered to improve responses to outbreaks and help producers mitigate foreign animal diseases on farms.

The goal of this project is to expand a Minnesota state program into a national tool for farmers and poultry companies to improve disease prevention and reporting. This online tool would allow producers to more easily manage flocks through farm mapping and disease reporting, which researchers believe will help improve farm biosecurity.

“Farmers and producers are often the first line of defense against invasive pests and pathogens,” said Sally Rockey, executive director of the Foundation for Food and Agriculture Research. “They are also greatly impacted by outbreaks through animal and economic losses. The Foundation for Food and Agriculture Research is pleased to support innovative technology to help farmers protect their livelihoods and our nation’s food supply.”

The new tool will allow companies to participate, which will fill a need to coordinate information amongst individual farms that send animals to a central processing location. The tool will also make standard reporting procedures, such as tracebacks and filing with the appropriate agencies, easier for producers.