ASHEVILLE NC – In response to the threat of Highly Pathogenic Avian Influenza, ASAP (Appalachian Sustainable Agriculture Project) has canceled their 2015 Farm Tour. The tour was planned for September 19-20 and was to feature more than 30 farms across Western North Carolina.
“It is with great regret that that we must cancel the Farm Tour as it offers life-changing farm experiences for locals and visitors alike and brings much-needed revenue and support to area farmers,” said ASAP’s Executive Director Charlie Jackson. “But the risk of inviting thousands of visitors to multiple farms during this time is too much of a threat to ignore. The potential spread of this disease could be devastating for commercial and backyard poultry flocks throughout the region.”
The mortality rate for infected birds is nearly 100%. Approximately 50 million birds have died in the U.S. as a result of HPAI this year. This current outbreak does not infect people, and meat and eggs continue to be safe for human consumption. The primary concern is with the spread of the disease to birds. This particular strain of influenza is unusually infectious and has the potential to impact all North Carolina poultry farming, large and small. North Carolina State Veterinarian Dr. R. Douglas Meckes calls this outbreak the “worst animal disease event in U.S. history.”
HPAI is considered a seasonal threat, thought to be transmitted from wild waterfowl to domestic poultry. This outbreak is unusually deadly and contagious for poultry. As the fall migration of wild birds birds progresses with cooler temperatures, there is a high likelihood that it will impact poultry in our region. Once here, it can easily be carried to chicken flocks by humans on shoes, clothing, and even car tires.
“Now, more than ever, we need to support our farms,” said Jackson. “Please continue to visit farms, orchards, shop at farmers tailgate markets, and seek out restaurants and grocers that purchase from local farms. There are numerous local food and farm activities that we can all do to continue to show our support for local food and farms.”
ASAP will offer a full refund for all advanced Farm Tour passes sold, or they can be converted to donations to support local farms. Contact Scott Bunn, ASAP’s Development Director, at [email protected] or 828-236-1282 for more information. Visit ASAP’s online Local Food Guide (www.appalachiangrown.org) to find ways to buy from local farms. The North Carolina Department of Agriculture’s website (www.ncagr.gov/avianflu) provide more information about HPAI, including the agricultural impact of the virus.
ABOUT ASAP (APPALACHIAN SUSTAINABLE AGRICULTURE PROJECT)
ASAP’s mission is to help local farms thrive, link farmers to markets and supporters, and build healthy communities through connections to local food. To learn more about ASAP’s work in the region, visit asapconnections.org, or call (828) 236-1282.