Lawmakers prepare for another round of bird flu in Minnesota

- The bird flu hit hard earlier this year, killing nine million turkeys and chickens in Minnesota alone.  Now the state is trying to get ahead of the issue to keep the virus spreading once cooler temps roll in.

"This was truly an outbreak and taxed everybody involved,” Dr. Bill Hartmann, Minnesota Board of Animal Health, said.  

But this fall, researchers and farmers are hoping a new understanding of the bird flu can stop an outbreak.

"We are focused on a number of areas, one is bio-security, trying to control what we can control at that barn door,” Steve Olson, Turkey Industry Rep., said.

At an informational hearing on Capital grounds, ideas and policies like ceiling barns and improving response times received support from both farmers and law makers.

Chicken farmer Barb Frank still remembers watching thousands of her birds being destroyed. She said the response and efforts of state and federal officials left much to be desired.

"We need some kind of safety net in the face of these disasters, otherwise only the largest companies with the deepest pockets will remain in the poultry industry,” Frank said.

Among her criticisms, Frank says her chickens suffered -- many going without food for four days before they were destroyed.

Lawmakers and administrators admit problems occurred during the rapid response to the outbreak this spring. But overall, they believe controlling the bird flu was a monumental feat, one they believe has prepared them for whatever comes their way this fall.

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