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Sen. Al Franken
Sen. Al Franken, D-Minnesota, is pushing the federal government to increase funding to be better prepared to combat avian influenza. | Photo courtesy of Sen. Al Franken
on March 20, 2017

Sen. Franken pushes for more funds to fight avian flu

Senator from Minnesota tells Trump U.S. should not be ‘caught flat-footed’ in responding to current outbreak

Sen. Al Franken, D-Minnesota, pressed President Donald Trump to put in place measures to prevent the recent avian influenza outbreak—which has hit producers in Wisconsin, Tennessee and potentially Alabama—from spreading to Minnesota and other states.

In a recent letter to Trump, Franken said the 2015 avian influenza outbreak cost Minnesota's economy nearly $650 million, and he urged quick preventive action by the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA), and for the administration to adequately fund current and future efforts to fight the disease.

"You inherit a system for fighting avian influenza outbreaks that was improved after the 2015 disaster through Federal collaboration with state and local government, universities, and the poultry industry. One of the important pieces in this fight will be the newly expanded Minnesota Poultry Testing laboratory that opened in Willmar, Minnesota, to conduct surveillance of high pathogenic avian influenza as part of the National Poultry Improvement Plan," Franken wrote in his letter. "However, we must not be caught flat-footed in responding to this agricultural emergency. I look forward to working with you to make sure that the federal government is prepared."

While Minnesota has not had any confirmed cases of avian influenza in 2017, it had more farms affected by the virus during the 2015 outbreak. To date one farm in Wisconsin and three in Tennessee have had confirmed cases, while three farms in Alabama are suspected of having been hit by avian influenza. Earlier in 2017, a wild duck in Montana also tested positive for avian influenza.

Track 2017 avian flu outbreaks in North American poultry

To help poultry growers and producers monitor these outbreaks of avian influenza, WATTAgNet has again created an interactive map tracking cases confirmed by the Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) in North America in 2017:

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