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Some relief is coming for farmers impacted by the Avian flu outbreak

State officials announced a new $25 million recovery and reimbursement program for poultry farmers and integrators impacted by highly pathogenic avian influenza.

MOUNT JOY, Pa. — The second week of April was a busy one for Heather Lewis and her family. They were getting ready for their next flock of chickens, which was scheduled to come in the next few days. 

“And that was when the first case of avian influenza was found in Pennsylvania, more specifically in our neighborhood," said Lewis. 

Plans were put on hold as the family waited to see what their future would look like.

“What’s stopped our world and brought our days of farming as we know it to a halt, turned other people’s worlds upside down," said Lewis. 

17 farms in Berks and Lancaster counties have lost more than 4.2 million birds.

“However there are many, many others that had direct income losses due to the proximity to these positive flocks," said Pennsylvania Agriculture Secretary Russell Redding.

The financial impact of the outbreak was about $34 million. 

“That is only for the loss of the poultry, and some of the cleanup and response effort, it does not address any of the recovery," said Redding. 

The Agriculture Secretary, PEMA, U.S Department of Agriculture, and industry partners announced a new $25 million recovery and reimbursement program for poultry farmers and integrators impacted by highly pathogenic avian influenza. 

The HPAI recovery reimbursement grant program is comprised of two rounds:

The first round is for poultry farmers and integrators and to only those premises located in the 3-kilometer infected zones as defined by the Pennsylvania Department of Agriculture’s general quarantine order. 

Round two will be open to those who suffered losses in the control zones. 

“The funding was designed to be flexible enough to cover various related costs, and we’re moving quickly to get the money into the hands of the farmers who need it," said Pennsylvania Treasurer Stacy Garrity. 

Lewis and her family say words will never be enough to express the gratitude they feel.

“I never thought I’d have the opportunity to thank the people who worked so hard to ensure that our way of life could continue and we could get back to the business of raising America’s number source of protein…but here I am," said Lewis.   

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