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Barron County Officials Take On Economic Impact Of Bird Flu

Turkey Farmers And Processing Industry Will Likely Feel Financial Pinch

A group of turkeys
Jessica “The Hun” Reeder (CC-BY)

Officials in Barron County have formed a task force to deal with economic impacts related to the bird flu epidemic hitting local turkey farms.

According to the University of Wisconsin-Extension, turkey farms in Barron County contribute more than $120 million to the local economy and the Jennie-O Turkey Store processing plant in the city of Barron contributes more than $1 billion. Economic Development Corporation Director Dave Armstrong said the bird flu could have a significant ripple effect in the community.

“The way everything is layered, all of the industries are layered upon each other, it could have a huge impact,” Armstrong said.

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Armstrong has joined a newly formed Avian Influenza Committee with Barron County officials to prepare for possible layoffs at Jennie-O and local turkey farms. So far, six farms that feed the processing plant have tested positive for bird flu and 650,000 turkeys have been euthanized.