Did the biosecurity lessons of 2015 curb deaths linked to the 2022 avian flu epidemic? An agricultural economist from Arkansas has an idea.

Nick Kordsmeier, U of A System Division of Ag

Jada Thompson, Assistant Professor of Agribusiness in the Department of Agricultural Economics and Agribusiness.

Did biosecurity lessons from the 2015 avian flu outbreak help save domestic birds in the 2022 outbreak?

Jada Thompson, assistant professor of agribusiness in the Department of Agricultural Economics and Agribusiness, said one factor indicates that proper biosecurity may have had a significant impact.

Thompson, a researcher at the Arkansas Agricultural Experiment Station, the research arm of the U of A System’s agriculture division, said unlike the 2015 bird flu outbreak, there was little or no of “lateral spread” of the novel highly pathogenic avian influenza (HPAI) this year. “Lateral spread” means the transmission of disease from house to house through things like farm equipment, vehicles and people, or from farm to farm.

The 2015 avian flu outbreak, which peaked in late spring, killed 50.5 million birds and was “the largest poultry health disaster in US history. “, according to the United States Department of Agriculture. In the current outbreak, the USDA Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service reports that 40.09 million domestic birds in commercial and backyard flocks have been lost to HPAI.

“While that 40.09 million is a big number, it’s a lot smaller than it might have been if we hadn’t learned beforehand,” Thompson said. “In this outbreak, we haven’t had lateral spread. We’ve had spread that appears to be from wild bird movements, so it wasn’t from house-to-house spread, which we’ve had in 2015.”

Arkansas is one of the top three broiler producers in the nation and one of 12 states with no HPAI in a commercial or backyard flock during the 2022 outbreak as of June 30. . In 2015, only a few states reported the highly pathogenic bird. flu, but with a higher number of infections. Thompson noted that reports of backyard flocks, which can start with a cooperative extension worker, have also increased this year.

Thompson, a native of northwest Arkansas, is one of a small group of agricultural economists specializing in poultry. She has a long history with the University of Alberta, where she earned her bachelor’s and master’s degrees in agricultural economics. For her bachelor’s degree, Thompson double majored in poultry science and agricultural economics. In June, she returned to the U of A as an assistant professor of agricultural economics after five years as an assistant professor at the University of Tennessee-Knoxville.

She received her doctorate in 2016 from Colorado State University. She has written extensively on the impacts of HPAI.

Thompson will conduct research in agricultural economics through the Arkansas Agricultural Experiment Station and teach agricultural business management as well as international agricultural trade and trade policy through the Dale Bumpers College of Agricultural, Food and Life Sciences from the U of A.

Although she is not limited to poultry in her livestock trade research, she is looking into avian influenza to help the poultry industry determine how to better manage business operations and maintain business continuity during an outbreak. .

“I’m looking at how we can manage risks going forward and solve problems going forward,” Thompson said. “How do we learn from the past to improve future performance? »

The coronavirus pandemic has opened another door of study in agricultural economics. Thompson and his co-authors are often cited for their 2021 article “COVID-19 and the agri-food system in the United States and Canada”. Another 2021 paper she co-authored with John Anderson, Head of the Department of Agricultural Economics and Agribusiness, is titled “Estimating the Impacts of COVID-19 on the Broiler Industry.”

Thompson has also co-authored articles on the impacts of disease, drought and pests on livestock and economic investigations of recreational fishing, sport-trained horses, investments in cageless egg production and the Trans-Pacific Partnership. Although beef and poultry were her primary subjects, she investigated a variety of economic issues, ranging from an analysis of the rice and switchgrass trade as jet fuel to the impacts of all-day breakfast at McDonald’s on layers. of eggs in the country during an outbreak of pathogens. She also studied abroad to obtain a master’s degree in rural development from the University of Ghent in Belgium.

“Dr. Thompson has training and experience in a wide variety of areas relevant to Arkansas stakeholders,” said Anderson, who is also director of the Fryar Price Risk Management Center of Excellence at the U of A System.

Anderson said his “deep expertise in poultry industry issues” has been developed through his personal experience in the industry, his training in poultry science at the U of A and his work on the disease mitigation with USDA-APHIS.

“She will be an invaluable asset to our department, given the economic importance of our poultry industry,” Anderson said. “In addition to this subject matter expertise, Dr. Thompson is an accomplished teacher and has extensive experience working directly with industry stakeholders. She is well equipped to make a meaningful contribution to our program’s efforts.”

To learn more about Agriculture Division research, visit the Arkansas Agricultural Experiment Station website: https://aaes.uada.edu/. Follow us on Twitter at @ArkAgResearch.

To learn more about extension programs in Arkansas, contact your local Cooperative Extension Service agent or visit https://uaex.uada.edu/. Follow us on Twitter at @AR_Extension.

To learn more about the Division of Agriculture, visit https://uada.edu/. Follow us on Twitter at @AgInArk.

About the Agriculture Division

The mission of the University of Arkansas Division of Agriculture System is to strengthen agriculture, communities, and families by connecting trusted research with the adoption of best practices. Through the Agricultural Experiment Station and the Cooperative Extension Service, the Division of Agriculture conducts research and extension work within the country’s historic land grant education system.

The Division of Agriculture is one of 20 entities in the University of Arkansas system. It has offices in all 75 counties of Arkansas and faculty at five system campuses.

The Agricultural System Division of the University of Arkansas offers all of its extension and research programs and services without regard to race, color, sex, gender identity, sexual orientation, national origin , religion, age, disability, marital or veteran status, genetic information, or other legally protected status, and is an Affirmative Action/Equal Opportunity Employer.

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