Three countries halt poultry imports from Arkansas over bird flu

LITTLE ROCK (Arkansas News Bureau) - Three countries have stopped importing poultry from Arkansas because of an outbreak of avian flu in one commercial chicken house in Scott County, a possible blow to the state's economy, a state agriculture official told lawmakers Tuesday.

Livestock and Poultry Commission Director Preston Scroggin said the outbreak of avian flu, discovered June 16 on a farm in the Boles Community, was contained to one chicken house and testing of all poultry within a 6.2 mile radius has been negative.

Scroggin said he hoped the three countries - China, Japan and Russia - will resume importing Arkansas poultry soon after a quarantine of all poultry within the affected area has been lifted, within about 90 days.

The last avian flu outbreak in Arkansas occurred in 2008, and China resumed accepting Arkansas poultry shipments just last year, he said.

"It's a serious issue for the state's economy...poultry is a big business," Scroggin told members of the House and Senate Agriculture, Forestry and Economic Development committees, adding that the loss of imports to China, Japan and Russia "could run into the hundreds of millions."

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