The avian flu has been a rising issue for the USDA across the nation, but how is this bird flu impacting smaller farmers in North Dakota?

“Our movement of poultry from the United States to the rest of the world is dependent on our ability to show that we have it under control,” said State Veterinarian Ethan Andress.

The USDA sent out a release about a backyard chicken flock in Kidder County being infected. That flock belonged to Jenna Vanhorne.

“I got avian influenza in my flock and had to put majority of my flock down. That’s a quarter of everything I own so it’s a big deal,” said Vanhorne.

This is the first time since 2015 North Dakota has had a confirmed case of the flu.

“A lot of these producers are suffering not only financial impacts but emotional impacts. It has been devastating to a lot of operations,” said Andress.

Vanhorne says having to kill an entire flock put a huge dent in her profit.

“I’ve lost six months of grow time. I have to start all over again with new chicks and hope they grow quickly,” Vanhorne said.

She explained that being listed as a non-commercial farmer means less financial assistance.

“Those commercial farmers will get paid. It’ll be a fraction of what the birds are worth but they’ll still be getting something back. Because I’m listed as a backyard producer, I won’t get anything and it’s a huge hit,” she added.

Farms that raise poultry for consumption are urged to increase biosecurity and sanitization, but officials say the bird flu detections are not an immediate public health concern.

“Just like with small businesses, small producers are important,” said Vanhorne.

For now, Vanhorne will continue to direct her consumers to support and buy from other local small farmers.