Feds Compensate Poultry Farmers

By: Donald Robinson
By: Donald Robinson

David Hughes of Rivermont Farm was happy with his check from the federal government and he says he's glad to be back in business. But even with help, it will still take him a long time to pay off all of his debts.

"Even though we are back in business again we are going to have to pay this back," said Hughes. "It will take years to get back to where we were before."

Hughes owns a turkey farm in Timberville. When the avian influenza hit the valley, he took steps to protect his birds.

"We even went to the extremes of changing clothes every time we went off the farm," said Hughes. "Washing the cars constantly and keeping a can of disinfectant in the car and spraying our feet."

That's wasn't enough. His birds tested positive and the state destroyed all 37,000 of Hughes' turkeys.

"Awe man it was devastating," said Hughes. "You put your heart and soul into this. They were about 12 weeks when they got this disease."

Between March and July, Virginia depopulated 197 poultry farms, destroying nearly 5 million turkeys and chickens. That cost poultry farmers and processors an estimated $130-million.

But, the federal government has stepped in to help.

"The poultry industry will get $51-millon," said Jackie Easter Virginia Executive Director of Farm Services Agency. "Because of the sacrifice they made and the impact on agriculture in the economy."

Some farms went out of business. But a few days before Christmas, Hughes received a great gift. His check for his losses. But after going 9 months without income and no insurance to cover costs, he's still working to pay off bills.

"I'm in good shape right now, said Hughes. "I haven't paid everything back, but I feel I'm a lot better financially than I was."


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