Senate approves funds to combat Avian Flu

Highly pathogenic avian influenza (HPAI, or avian or bird flu) is a severe form of influenza that affects poultry, and usually causes very high death rates in poultry flocks. It is carried by waterfowl and tends to travel with flocks of ducks and geese as they migrate, which Minnesota is seeing the start of right now. The outbreak in 2015 resulted in 9 million birds in the state being killed by the virus or euthanized to slow its spread. Minnesota is the country’s leading turkey producer.

This flu was first detected in Minnesota on March 26th, and ss of April 6th, had been reported in at least 21 infected sites across 11 counties, affecting more than 1 million birds.

Becker, Morrison, Stearns, Kandiyohi, Meeker, Big Stone, La qui Parle, Le Sueur, Waseca, Dodge, and Mower Counties have all seen outbreaks.

Senate DFLers this week voted to send $1 million to the state’s agriculture emergency account to help the Department of Agriculture and the Board of Animal Health combat this deadly flu. While this funding won’t be enough, it is a strong start and allows for a rapid response.

According to a USDA report, the federal government spent $879 million responding to the 2015 outbreak, including $200 million in payments for lost birds.

The House is expected to pass, and the governor is expected to sign this important bill before the week’s end. Senate DFLers will continue to support our farmers and the Department of Agriculture as we fight this outbreak of bird flu. (HF 3217)