By John Lauritsen

MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — Losses due to the bird flu in Minnesota are now estimated at more than $300 million.

It’s not just turkey farmers that are affected, the bird flu has created a trickle-down effect. It’s even impacted a wood-recycling company in Faribault.

READ MORE: Guthrie Theater To Reopen In July, With Shows Starting In October

Before the bird flu hit in March, business at Bio Wood Processing was soaring. In fact, they could barely keep up. Now, they go to work knowing each day could be their last.

Untreated wood is brought in, and after it’s recycled, it’s turned into bedding for turkeys. But over the past six weeks, Bio Wood has lost nearly $100,000 because one of its biggest clients, Jennie-O, currently has no need for turkey bedding.

“When you go from that to nothing, it hurts,” said co-owner Joe Barna.

With thousands of birds killed, Jennie-O and other clients are trying to get back on track. That’s put Bio Wood in a tough spot. They have an agreement to pick up wood from companies, recycle it, and ship it to others who need bedding for farm animals.

But without much to ship these days, the wood is piling up- yet they have to keep picking it up.

“If your garbage man stopped for the next 3 months, you couldn’t have that. These facilities depend on us every day to pick up,” said Barna.

READ MORE: Judge Denies Media Requests For Cameras At Hearing For Kim Potter, Officer Charged In Daunte Wright's Death

And now Rice County says Bio Wood is violating its conditional use permit by how they are storing the excess wood.

“We went to them before this and said the turkey industry has been in a lot of trouble. Basically we haven’t gotten a lot of response or a lot of help out of them,” said Barna.

“And it’s scary. It’s scary to be under that stress on a day to day basis,” said co-owner Kim Halvorson, who is also a turkey farmer.
Bio Wood is trying to find alternative business. They’ve turned some of the wood into mulch.

But they are hoping the turkey business comes back before all 16 employees are left looking for work.

“Everybody is worried about it. If the county shuts us down what are they going to do for a job? What are their families going to do for a job? It’s very stressful,” said Barna.

Bio Wood said business is down about 80%.

MORE NEWS: Joseph Ness Charged With Murdering Older Sister In Family's Chanhassen Home

If the county shuts them down, they said they will look at relocating to another county. But they are hoping it doesn’t come to that and an exception is made.

John Lauritsen