BIRD FLU: Senate OKs bill to fund Minnesota's emergency response

A bill from Sen. Kevin Dahle (DFL-Northfield) would fund Minnesota's emergency response to the bird flu, which has affected over 1.6 million birds in the state thus far. The fund was unanimously passed in the House Finance Committee on Thursday and also on the Senate floor. Now, it heads back to the House for approval.

According to the bill, $514,000 would be appropriated to the Commissioner of Agriculture for costs not covered by federal funding, and $370,000 would go to the Minnesota Board of Animal Health.

"They have over 200 people in the field right now to deal with testing and the and the quarantines. And it may not even be enough, but it is helping that those two agencies get their work done," Sen. Dahle said.

Gov. Mark Dayton says he'll sign as soon as it gets to his desk.

"My heart goes out to those produces who have been in additional to the emotional devastation of losing your entire flock to the financial situation of losing your entire income it is really beyond comprehension," Gov. Dayton said.

The Senate added some unrelated language to the bill on moving budget reserve reporting dates, which means that the bill will have to go to conference with the House before moving to the Governor for his signature.

The USDA has already spent $15 million helping stricken farmers in Minnesota. There are 26 farms in 14 Minnesota counties that have been infected with the avian flu this year.

On Thursday, the USDA confirmed new outbreaks at turkey farms in Stearns, Kandiyohi, Otter Tail and Roseau counties.

SEE NEXT- Avian flu: 26 Minnesota farms, 1.6M birds affected

Chickens in Iowa + Wisconsin, too

Now that the H5N2 avian flu has affected a 200,000 member chicken flock in Wisconsin and a 3.8 million layer hen flock in Iowa, U of M professor of agricultural business Mike Boland said we may need to brace ourselves in Minnesota. Boland said there's "tremendous volatility" in egg prices as it is, and this outbreak could add yet another variable. 

The farm in northwest Iowa's Osceola County holds nearly 10 percent of the state's egg-laying hens. Iowa's roughly 59 million hens lay nearly one in every five eggs consumed in the United States.
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