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Michigan’s Largest Egg Farm Faces Layoffs Amid Avian Flu Concerns

Michigan’s Largest Egg Farm Faces Layoffs Amid Avian Flu Concerns


By Andi Anderson

Michigan's largest egg producer, Herbruck’s Poultry Ranch, is facing significant challenges as the state grapples with an outbreak of avian influenza. The company has announced the layoff of 40% of its workforce, affecting 400 employees across its facilities in Ionia County.

The layoffs come amid efforts by the company and state agriculture officials to contain the spread of avian flu, which poses a threat to both poultry and cattle. The outbreak has prompted the Michigan Department of Agriculture and Rural Development to declare an "extraordinary animal health emergency."

For Herbruck’s, the layoffs were a necessary step as the company works to decontaminate its facilities and halt the spread of the disease. CEO Greg Herbruck explained, "Herbruck’s has reached the difficult decision to conduct layoffs at the affected facilities where work is not available."

The avian influenza outbreak, characterized by the highly pathogenic H5N1 strain, has already impacted poultry and cattle in several Michigan counties. The economic ramifications are significant, with the layoffs at Herbruck’s highlighting the broader challenges faced by the agricultural sector in the state.

Tim Boring, director of the Michigan Department of Agriculture and Rural Development, emphasized the economic impact of the outbreak, stating, "There's certainly an economic hit to the farms." The full extent of the economic consequences is yet to be determined, but reports indicate that egg prices are starting to rise.

While the immediate focus is on containing the outbreak and ensuring biosecurity, efforts are also being made to support affected farmers and workers. Boring highlighted the importance of keeping farmers in business, stating, "One of our priorities within all of this... is to keep farmers farming."

The challenges posed by the avian flu outbreak, there is optimism that affected facilities will be able to resume operations in the near future. Herbruck expressed hope that many of the layoffs would be temporary, with plans to rehire employees once production can safely resume.

The situation underscores the resilience of Michigan's agricultural community in the face of adversity. As efforts continue to contain the outbreak and support affected workers, the focus remains on safeguarding the state's food supply and supporting local farmers.

Photo Credit: gettyimages-evgenii-leontev

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Categories: Michigan, Livestock, Poultry

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