A devastating bout of avian flu has shocked midwestern chicken farmers — and truck drivers are feeling the impact.
The avian flu is expected to cost the economies of Minnesota and Iowa over $1 billion. The epidemic killed or forced the slaughter of an estimated 39 million birds in 15 states.
While most of the economic burden of the avian flu crisis will be borne by egg and poultry farmers, the crisis will certainly affect trucking in the midwest.
Economic expert Bridget Tuck estimates that for every 100 poultry jobs that are lost to the flu, the state could lose 9 jobs in the trucking industry.
Scientists say that the avian flu is likely being spread by wild birds, who may not be affected but can transmit the disease in their droppings.
The good news? Warm weather could provide much-needed relief for farmers, and in turn, the truckers that support them. This is because the virus begins to dry out at about 65 degrees and is practically dead at 85 degrees, meaning the midwest summer weather will help to squelch the spread of the virus.
The bad news? It takes a farmer about three months to start over with new birds, meaning that there will be very significant economic strain on farmers and drivers for some time to come.