Senators appeal for funding to fight avian flu as outbreak worsens

By Philip Brasher

© Copyright Agri-Pulse Communications, Inc.



WASHINGTON, May 4, 2015 - With avian flu cases continuing to spread across Midwest poultry farms, a bipartisan group of senators is appealing to appropriators to ensure the Agriculture Department has enough money to fight the outbreak.

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Three Republicans and 12 Democrats signed a letter led by Amy Klobuchar, D-Minn., and Charles Grassley, R-Iowa, urging the Senate Agriculture Appropriation Subcommittee to make funding the avian health program a “very high priority.”

The senators did not request a specific amount of money, but noted that President Obama had requested $52 million for fiscal 2016, the same amount the program received in fiscal 2014 and 2015. The program pays for avian influenza surveillance, reporting, and control, as well as distributing indemnity payments to affected producers.

USDA's Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service on Monday announced detections of the highly pathogenic H5N2 avian influenza in nine additional flocks in Iowa and Minnesota.  The detections bring the total number in the nation since December to 114, according to APHIS.

Laying operations in Iowa and turkey producers in Minnesota have been particularly hard hit. 

[Trying to keep up with the avian flu outbreak? Sign up for an Agri-Pulse four-week free trial subscription to stay on top of this and other food, ag, rural policy and energy issues.] 

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