Top US Egg Supplier "Temporarily Ceases" Operations At Texas Plant After Bird Flu Outbreak 

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by Tyler Durden
Wednesday, Apr 03, 2024 - 10:00 PM

The largest egg producer in the US has temporarily halted production at one of its facilities after bird flu—also known as highly pathogenic avian influenza, or HPAI—was detected. 

Cal-Maine Foods, Inc. wrote in a press release that HPAI was detected at "one of the Company's facilities located in Parmer County, Texas, resulting in depopulation of approximately 1.6 million laying hens and 337,000 pullets, or approximately 3.6% of the Company's total flock." 

"Production at the facility has temporarily ceased as the Company follows the protocols prescribed by the USDA. Cal-Maine Foods is working to secure production from other facilities to minimize disruption to its customers," the company said. 

Bloomberg said this is the "biggest bird flu casualty" since early December when 2.6 million birds were culled at a commercial egg farm in Ohio after HPAI was found. Cal-Maine also had a Kansas farm cull 684,000 hens the same month.

In a mid-March note, we pointed out that data from USDA showed that Grade A egg prices at the supermarket were soaring again. 

Unlink the previous HPAI outbreak in 2022. There are reports the virus is spreading in dairy cattle herds - and even infecting humans. This raises significant concerns about the potential impact on the food supply chain. 

Infected Texas dairy cattle are experiencing decreased lactation and low appetite, with older cows more likely to be severely impacted. Some herds have reported pneumonia and clinical mastitis — an inflammatory disease — the Texas Animal Health Commission said by email. Most animals seem to recover in as many as two weeks with supported care, albeit with reduced milk production levels.

Some cows may never see their milk production recover to pre-infection levels, in which case they might be culled, according to a HighGround Dairy report Monday. "The longer-term impact on supply is not entirely clear, as farmers are trying to maintain herd inventories in a time of tight cattle supplies," it said. -Bloomberg

There have yet to be any reports that the virus has spread to beef herds, where the US cattle herd is at seven-decade lows, and supermarket prices are at record highs. 

Dave Kurzawski, an analyst at StoneX Group Inc., mentioned in a note to clients that discussions are happening about possible consumer demand risks for dairy products. He further said that significant risks are present, and the effect of the illness on consumer purchasing patterns remains uncertain. 

The US food supply chain faces yet another challenge, as mysterious fires have hit food processing plants in recent years. Additionally, billionaire activists in the WEF cult advocate for a 'reset' in the global food supply chain, moving from beef, dairy, and chicken towards plant-based and insect-based foods. 

Meanwhile, billionaires like Bill Gates have been quietly purchasing America's farmland.