Bill to Combat Avian Influenza Passes Unanimously

The Senate has fast-tracked a bill that will provide additional support to Minnesota farmers as they fight a deadly outbreak of avian influenza. The bill received unanimous votes in the Finance Committee and on the floor of the Senate. It will now head back to the House for approval.

The worst pandemic in over 30 years, the H5N2 virus has rapidly progressed to hit 26 turkey farms in 14 Minnesota counties, and over 1.6 million birds have died as a result. The bill appropriates $514,000 to the Commissioner of Agriculture and $379,000 to the Board of Animal Health for emergency response activities that are not covered by federal funding. The bill passed the House 129-0.

Turkey farming is an important industry in Minnesota, and protecting it as soon as possible must be a priority, as action will protect hundreds of local farmers. Minnesota is the top turkey producing and processing state in the country, amounting to a $600 million industry annually. Even before avian flu had become widespread in the state, 40 countries had banned imports of Minnesota turkeys, further damaging the industry. The House did not accept the Senate language and the bill will go to Conference Committee. (S.F. 2096)

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