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Blog for Last Chance for Animals, an international non-profit dedicated to ending animal cruelty and exploitation.

New Avian Flu Outbreak Plagues Butterball Farms in Arkansas and Missouri

New Avian Flu Outbreak Plagues Butterball Farms in Arkansas and Missouri

A highly contagious new form of avian flu has infiltrated Arkansas and Missouri farms, many of which supply turkeys to the Butterball brand. Butterball is one of the world’s largest turkey sellers, and this discovery has led to a nationwide panic as farmers rush to protect their flocks from possible infection. This new strain of bird flu is also drawing unwanted international attention as countries like China and Mexico demand harsher trade restrictions on U.S. poultry products.

A spokesperson for the Butterball Corporation confirmed that a “limited number” of turkeys from some of their supplying contract farms have indeed contracted the H5N2 avian influenza. The U.S. Department of Agriculture also confirmed, stating that one particular flock of over 40,000 commercially raised turkeys has been infected in Arkansas, with another similarly sized flock having already contracted the disease in Missouri.   

Smaller outbreaks in recent months have already been confirmed in several other states. Previous cases were reported in Idaho, Washington, Oregon, Minnesota, and California. States such as Alabama and Georgia are watching this story particularly closely, as their farms produce the largest numbers of broiler chickens in the U.S. Arkansas is also home of Tyson Foods, the third-largest supplier of chicken products and the second-largest of turkey. If H5N2 were to infect these flocks, the entire poultry industry could be affected.

This wave of sickness comes just as the Arkansas House has proposed a bill  that would make it more difficult to expose wrongdoing at poultry farms and other businesses. HB1774 would make it illegal to record audio in the workplace without the expressed consent of all parties involved. If passed, the new legislation would make investigations into worker or animal abuse extremely difficult to conduct in the state.  

Arkansas is not only the home of Tyson Foods, but of Walmart as well; both corporations have been exposed for animal abuse violations at supplier farms. This latest outbreak of bird flu highlights the need for these undercover investigations, as they are often the only way safety violations are exposed.

In response to the bill, animal advocacy group Last Chance for Animals is circulating a petition to stop the proposed bill and protect the right to record misdoings at factory farms and other businesses. The petition, as well as more information, can be found at endaggaglaws.com.

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