This evening our guest speaker was Dr. Doug Meckes who brought us a very interesting presentation about potential poultry problems in the world. The price of eggs has already been affected and there is some concern that there may be even bigger problems in the near future. Doug is a native of Alabama and a proud Auburn alumnus. He started the Apex Veterinary Hospital in 1985, spent about 10 years serving on the Apex Town Council and spent about 10 years in Washington D.C. as well. Currently, he is serving as the NC State Veterinarian appointed by Governor Pat McCrory.
Agriculture in North Carolina is an $80 Billion per year industry. The Pork and Poultry industries are a very large piece of that. North Carolina ranks fourth in terms of the most diverse states in the USA in agriculture. And agriculture represents about 17% of jobs and 16% of revenue for the state. The Veterinary Division is the animal portion of the Agriculture Division. We have four diagnostic labs in the state and the division assists with things like Animal Welfare by inspecting approximately 800 kennels and shelters and also providing approximately 29 Veterinarians in those diagnostic labs. They also have a research division which studies things like genetically similar cattle and tests for disease control.
Currently there is a major animal disease situation with a new virus in birds. It started in British Columbia with migratory birds and has affected as many as 50 Million birds so far. This is the primary cause for the recent increase in the price of eggs. The research team is prepared with 12 teams to deploy in NC when the migratory birds return later this year to study, quarantine and try to treat the birds as necessary. This virus affects almost all types of birds but ducks seem to be the only ones that are not yet affected. This has been devastating to many farmers because they have no insurance to protect themselves from issues like this. The USDA has already paid close to $500 Million in indemnity and expenses related to this outbreak. Homeland Security and Customs are also involved in trying to keep infections diseases like this under control.
We would like to thank Dr. Doug Meckes for spending the evening with us and informing us about this situation and answering all the questions we had. It was quite interesting to learn about this problem and what is being done to help. It was also interesting to see the cause and effect of how the disease affects the farmers and price of eggs so quickly. So if you were wondering why eggs suddenly got so expensive… Now you know!