A group of eleven senators from both parties are calling for additional funding to fight the spread of highly pathogenic avian influenza, which has so far resulted in the deaths of more than 37.5 million birds across 34 states.

The senators led by Amy Klobuchar, D-Minn., and Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa, sent a letter to leaders of the Senate Agriculture Appropriations Subcommittee, requesting more money to bolster the Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service's avian health program to better fight the spread of highly pathogenic avian influenza. The highly contagious disease is often fatal to chickens.

In his FY23 budge request, President Joe Biden asked Congress to provide $65 million for APHIS's avian health program, a move supported by the senators in the letter. The current budget for the program is $63 million.

Grassley, in a call with reporters, said he foresees most of the funding being spent on depopulation reimbursement and surveillance. However, he made it clear that if the Appropriations Committee did expand the budget, the additional funding would not be available until next year.

"At this point, as long as this is receding as a problem, any surveillance you do through that appropriation doesn't do any good for this year," Grassley said. "[It's] like locking the barn doors after the horse has been stolen. But it'll be money available for the next year."

For more news, go to www.Agri-Pulse.com.