Industry comes together for HPAI Listening Session

March 24, 2022

AEB and UEP leaders Emily Metz and Chad Gregory opened the HPAI Listening Session during the AEB Board Meeting in Sarasota, FL, on March 15, emphasizing the need for the industry to work together during the HPAI crisis. A large crowd of in-person and virtual participants attended the event, listening to insights from federal and state officials, affected producers and industry leaders with the opportunity to ask questions, share experiences, and understand recommendations on many HPAI issues.

USDA APHIS insights

USDA Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) Deputy Administrator Dr. Rosemary Sifford spoke about the high viral load in the environment, advising producers to keep biosecurity tight and avoid unnecessary risks. APHIS National Incident Commander for HPAI Dr. Koren Custer answered questions submitted by participants, stating it is critical for APHIS to be notified immediately of positive tests. Click here for questions submitted in advance and APHIS responses.

State recommendations

State Veterinarian Dr. Bret Marsh discussed his experience with the recent detections in Indiana and emphasized a need for immediate planning. Early actions can help contain the spread, and Dr. Marsh outlined recommended steps for producers with negative flocks in control areas.

Critical conversations

Animal Health and Biosecurity Committee Chair Sherman Miller facilitated a robust discussion with producers affected by HPAI in 2015 and 2022.

UEP Senior VP of Food Safety Regulatory Affairs Oscar Garrison led a discussion on priority industry concerns. Garrison strongly recommended producers plan for depopulation and determine the availability of labor and supplies, transportation issues, and disposal options.

Caitlin McKenzie, Director of Quality Systems and Compliance at Daybreak Foods, spoke about Secure Egg Supply guidance on permitting for the movement of eggs and egg products during the HPAI outbreak.

International and trade perspectives

Julian Madeley, CEO of the World Egg Organization (IEC), spoke about international HPAI challenges and Europe’s consideration of vaccination as a preventive tool in addition to biosecurity and flock health management and surveillance.

Garrett Borkhuis, the USA Poultry & Egg Export Council Director of Trade and Technical Services, reviewed the current trade restrictions for shell eggs, trade restrictions for egg products and improved regionalization agreements.

Crisis communications

AEB’s Director of Integrated Communications Marc Dresner and UEP’s PR Consultant Hinda Mitchell provided a recap of media coverage on affected egg farms, data on consumer sentiment and learnings from consumer surveys on HPAI. The AEB-UEP Crisis Communications team also has infographics, animations, FAQs and other materials available for customers, consumers and the media.

Biosecurity is the best defense against HPAI

All speakers throughout the session emphasized that it is never too late to strengthen biosecurity. Producers are encouraged to increase biosecurity to the highest level possible to lower the risk of introducing HPAI to a farm.

AEB and UEP support

Metz and Gregory wrapped up the meeting encouraging participants to reach out with additional HPAI concerns and questions. The Crisis Communications Team stands ready to assist producers and state partners with any media issues, customer inquiries, or other HPAI related questions or concerns.