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Bird Backlog Concerns Senators

Huge numbers of chickens and turkeys exposed to highly pathogenic avian influenza need proper disposal, and USDA isn’t responding fast enough, say two senators from Iowa who wrote Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack earlier this week. 

Republican Senators Chuck Grassley and Joni Ernst have heard from Iowa poultry producers concerned about a lack of direction from the department regarding depopulation and repopulation of their flocks, as well as a possible development of a vaccine to combat the deadly virus.

The disease has been detected at more than 30 poultry farms across the state and roughly 24 million birds need to be depopulated.

“I’ve heard from producers that the current pace at which depopulation is occurring may not be fast enough. There are additional questions about how long producers will need to leave their barns empty once the depopulation process is complete and sites are deemed free of this disease by testing. USDA could help calm a lot of nerves if they provided answers to a few of these questions. The sooner that clarity can be given on timelines for repopulating buildings, the better prepared everyone will be to make decisions about this crisis,” Grassley said.

“It’s critical that we work as quickly as possible to stop this outbreak of the avian influenza to safeguard Iowa’s poultry and egg producers. I have heard their concerns and will continue to push the USDA to take the necessary steps in the disposal, cooperation, and preventive measures to combat further spread and assist our producers, rural communities, and industry nationwide,” Ernst said.

A copy of the letter can be found here.

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