FILE - In this Dec. 2, 2008 file photo, a Pilgrim's Pride contract chicken farmer walks amid three-week-old chicks at a farm just outside the city limits of Pittsburg, Texas. A group of former chicken farmers from five states, intent on changing the way the nation's largest poultry processors pay farmers for raising chickens, have filed a lawsuit in federal court in Oklahoma. Seeking class-action status, the farmers, allege that the contract grower industry structure created by Pilgrim's Pride and other companies pushed them deep into debt. (AP Photo/LM Otero, File)
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The Tennessee supplier discovered to have cases of avian influenza has destroyed nearly 75,000 birds, but Georgia agriculture officials say they are not taking any chances.

The Georgia Department of Agriculture has issued various statements on the outbreak discovered at a commercial chicken farm that supplies to Tyson Foods. The case was confirmed by health officials and, to date, is the closest occurrence to Georgia.

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Commissioner Gary Black says the concern is due mostly to the industry affect for the state. Agriculture is Georgia’s number on industry and the Peach State is also thenumber one poultry producing state in the nation.

The US Department of Agriculture reports that the H7 strain of Highly Pathogenic Avian Influenza, or HPAI, was found in a flock of 73,500 chickens in central Tennessee near the Alabama border.

Poultry producers and processors are highly regulated in Georgia and the influenza is spread mostly by water fowl. The Department of Agriculture is asking people with backyard chickens to take due case as well by changing their shoes and washing their hands.

During a scare in 2015, the Georgia Department of Agriculture instructed a poultry farmer destroy at least one of his flocks in fear of avian flu contamination, however, the results indicating the flock was negative for influenza did not return before the Dept. of Agriculture demanded the destruction.

Black said this is not a food safety issue.

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Jessica Szilagyi is statewide contributor for All On Georgia and Market Manager for Southeast Georgia. Her main focus with All On Georgia is state and local politics as well as agriculture. She’s served as a policy analyst at the State Capitol and as a campaign manager in political races across the state.

She writes for GeorgiaPol.com and has two blogs of her own: ‘The Perspicacious Conservative’, a political blog, and ‘Hair Blowers to Lawn Mowers’, a blog on moving from Atlanta to rural Georgia. Jessica is also a contributor for Fox5 Atlanta’s ‘Like it Or Not.’

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