WASHINGTON, June 11, 2015 -- Senate Agriculture Committee Chairman Pat Roberts, R-Kan., has scheduled a hearing on July 7 to examine the effects of Highly Pathogenic Avian Influenza (HPAI) on the U.S. poultry sector.

The latest HPAI outbreaks began in December on the West Coast. Since then, there have been more than 220 confirmed detections, mostly in commercial flocks in the central and upper Midwest, killing or forcing officials to depopulate more than 47 million chickens and turkeys.

Yesterday, USDA reduced its estimates for turkey production for this year and 2016, citing losses due to HPAI. Estimates of egg production were also reduced for both years.

About 5.604 billion pounds of turkey meat will be produced in 2015, USDA said in a monthly report, down 6.3 percent from 5.979 billion forecast in May and down from 5.756 billion pounds produced in 2014. Estimated output for 2016 was cut to 6.010 billion pounds from 6.210 billion pounds.

“HPAI has significantly affected supplies of turkeys and the expected pace of flock recovery results in a reduced 2016 production forecast,” USDA said today in its World Agriculture Supply and Demand Estimates report.

The department estimated egg production for this year at 7.994 billion dozen, down from 8.323 billion dozen projected in May. For 2016, output is estimated at 8.141 billion dozen, down from 8.525 billion dozen forecast a month ago.