WASHINGTON – Sens. Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) and Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.), members of the Senate Agriculture Committee, led their colleagues in a bipartisan push for more funding to help address the highly pathogenic avian influenza (HPAI) outbreak. As of Friday, the HPAI outbreak has impacted around 19 sites across Iowa, affecting 13 million birds – more than any other state.
“HPAI has been detected in 32 states across the country and has killed over 36 million birds. Although the virus poses minimal risk to human health, it has serious implications for U.S. poultry producers, rural communities, and our agricultural economy,” the senators wrote to Senate Appropriations Committee leaders.
“Given the recent outbreak, the ongoing increase in confirmed HPAI cases, and the likelihood of further spread, we urge the Subcommittee to make funding for the APHIS avian health program a high priority. These funds are critical to continue HPAI response measures,” the senators concluded.
In addition to Grassley and Klobuchar, the letter was also signed by Sens. Thom Tillis (R-N.C.), Tom Carper (D-Del.), Bob Casey (D-Pa.), Raphael Warnock (D-Ga), Mark Warner (D-Va.), Tina Smith (D-Minn.), Chris Coons (D-Del.), Chris Van Hollen (D-Md.) and Dick Durbin (D-Ill.).
As one of only two farmers to serve in the Senate, Grassley has long worked to provide Iowa farmers with needed resources to address livestock diseases and economic disruptions. Grassley quickly spoke with Iowa Secretary of Agriculture Mike Naig after the first case was announced to coordinate the state and federal response. When an avian flu outbreak struck Iowa in 2015, Grassley worked to secure assistance for impacted producers and pressed the Agriculture Committee chairman to hold a hearing on the issue.