Turkey farmers 'broke down to tears' at bird flu meeting

After meeting with poultry producers in Litchfield, Minnesota on Monday morning, Sen. Amy Klobuchar says the federal government should consider compensating farmers for every bird lost to avian influenza. Current compensation only covers birds that are euthanized when the virus is found in a flock.

"One of the things that I was struck by was the emotion," Klobuchar said. "We had people who have been in the business, who are in their 50s and 60s, who just broke down in tears at the thought that they might lose their business. Small farmers who had wanted to pass on their business to their sons and daughters, working alongside them, and really not knowing what's going to happen in the future."

The veterinarians, poultry producers and policy makers at Monday's meeting talked about solutions to the avian influenza epidemic, which include:

- Reimbursement for farmers

- Possible vaccinations for birds

- Retrofitting turkey barns for internal ventilation

"We have a situation that this is possibly being carried in their air," Klobuchar said. "We don't know that yet. The studies are continuing, but that is a possibility."

Bird flu has killed 7 million turkeys and chickens since the outbreak was first discovered last month, including 2.3 million birds in Minnesota.