Rob Moritz with our content partner, the Arkansas News Bureau reports:

Three countries have stopped importing poultry from Arkansas because of an outbreak of avian flu in one commercial chicken house in Scott County, a possible blow to the state’s economy, a state agriculture official told lawmakers Tuesday.

Livestock and Poultry Commission Director Preston Scroggins said the outbreak of avian flu, discovered June 16 on a farm in the Boles Community, was contained to one chicken house and testing of all poultry within a 6.2 mile radius has been negative.

Scroggins said he hoped the three countries — China, Japan and Russia — will resume importing Arkansas poultry soon after a quarantine of all poultry within the affected area has been lifted, within about 90 days.

The last avian flu outbreak in Arkansas occurred in 2008, and China resumed accepting Arkansas poultry shipments just last year, he said.

“It’s a serious issue for the state’s economy … poultry is a big business,” Scroggins told members of the House and Senate Agriculture, Forestry and Economic Development committees, adding that the loss of imports to China, Japan and Russia “could run into the hundreds of millions.”

The effects of an extended embargo on the state’s $16 billion agriculture industry would go beyond the loss of direct poultry exports, the Livestock and Poultry chief said. Poultry production amounts to about 47 percent of the state’s agriculture revenue, he said, adding that Springdale-based Tyson Foods, the nation’s top meat processor, alone uses about 62 percent of the corn grown in Arkansas.

Gov. Mike Beebe offered his opinion on the Chinese decision in the context of his recent trade mission to the country. Also Tyson Foods weighed in with comments.

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