LANSING, Mich. (Michigan News Source) – As Americans across the country prepare to celebrate Thanksgiving, many may find the effects of an avian flu hitting their wallets. 

This year, millions of turkeys died as a result of an avian flu, though many Michigan turkey farms have been spared the worst of the damage. 

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Some smaller southeast Michigan turkey farms have been forced to increase the price 30 to 50 cents a pound in part because of the increased cost of raising turkeys. Because many farmers use hatcheries to supply turkeys right after birth, they were spared from the avian flu.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture, published a report on the avian flu that killed more than 8 million turkeys, which is more than 14% of the nation’s total turkey production leaving turkey supplies per capita at the lowest point since 1986 according to the Detroit News.  

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“The United States has had a really tough time with avian influenza this year,” Avian Disease Professor at Michigan State University’s College of Veterinary Medicine Richard Fulton said, “It has affected and infected lots of poultry. One of the hardest hit areas has been Minnesota, and they’re typically first or second in terms of turkey production in the U.S.”

Some local Michigan farms have had to adjust their sales model to account for higher costs in   raising turkeys. 

“Everything is more expensive for me,” Owner of Roperti’s Turkey Farm in Livonia Christine Roperti said, “For me to stay in business, I have to raise prices. Everything is so much higher this year.”  

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Senior Vice President for the National Turkey Federation, Beth Breeding – a trade group for turkey raisers – agrees that the higher cost of raising turkeys has driven up the cost of them in the stores. 

“Food prices across the supermarket are up, and turkey is also affected by that,” Breeding said, “The feed is the largest cost in raising a turkey,”

Breeding attributed the sharp increase in corn and soybean prices, partially because of the war in Ukraine, as a factor which has raised the cost.  High gasoline and energy prices have also boosted processing and transportation costs according to her. 

“When all of those inputs are going up, that affects the cost that it takes to raise the turkey,” she said. 

Inflation has also gobbled up other materials that are found in traditional Thanksgiving meals.  

“As we’ve seen across the economy, American consumers are experiencing higher prices driven by a perfect storm of factors,” Senior Vice President for National Grocers Association Laura Strange, a trade group for independent grocery stores, said in a Monday email.

Labor shortages, higher fuel costs and wages and supply chain snarls are some of the biggest price pressures she said. 

This has resulted in an increase in pre-made baked goods, baking mixes, and frozen desserts which are up at least 15% from the costs last year according to WLNS. 

Michigan traditionally is one of the country’s top turkey producing states according to the USDA’s National Agricultural Statistics service – with 5.1 million raised in 2021 – behind Minnesota who had the largest crop in 2021 with 40.5 million turkeys.