Wisconsin egg producers say bird flu having impact locally

NOW: Wisconsin egg producers say bird flu having impact locally

MILWAUKEE (CBS 58) -- The price is rising fast for a staple of many Americans' diet, the egg.

The cost of eggs has been rising since 2020 and now the highly contagious bird flu has forced tens of millions of egg-producing chickens to be put down across the country including here in Wisconsin.

The U.S. farm credit system says egg prices that were at about $1.50 a dozen at the start of 2022 have now jumped to above $2.25 a dozen on average.

The five-year average in march and April more commonly would peak at about $1.60 a dozen around Easter.

It's something farmers here in Wisconsin say they've already begun dealing with.

"They wanted 5 dollars a dozen for eggs, even the least expensive ones," said shopper Peggy Nelson, "Easter is two weeks away and right now I'm not sure what I'm going to color."

Wisconsin Poultry and Egg Industries Association President Nick Levendoski says him and other egg producers are waiting for the other shoe to drop.

"It's not so much of if, but when, and additional where," said Levendoski.

He said Wisconsin it isn't bad yet, with one backyard flock and one commercial flock coming down with the avian flu.

He said that commercial flock is an important one however.

"[It] represents a pretty substantial amount of eggs produced in the state," said Levendoski. Which means prices will likely be trending up.

UW-Madison Extension poultry specialist Ron Kean said it isn't just chickens.

"Backyard, commercial, laying chickens, meat chickens, turkeys, I saw one in pheasants now," said Kean talking about avian flu outbreaks.

Levendoski said that's why they're asking anyone with birds to be careful right now.

"Whether they've got 4 birds that live out in the country, or suburban folks that have 4 laying hens," said Levendoski.

They encourage people to keep them away from other birds, and contained as possible to stop the spread.

He said to also avoid swapping birds with people right now.

Long term, he says the more flocks that are infected and have to be culled and disposed of for safety, the more likely other things like the price of meat will be effected too.

"Holiday birds are probably going to be a little more expensive, some of your sandwich meat is probably going to be a little more expensive," said Levendoski.

People like Nelson said it's just the latest in a long line of such things.

"You're not making any more at your job, but you're paying more and more at the pump, at the grocery store, just for everyday items," said Nelson.

Egg producers said for those of you who have birds at home, it's best to wait a few weeks and see how this situation plays out.

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