Under the current federal program, the government pays poultry producers for birds that have been euthanized, largely as an incentive to assure that avian influenza infections are reported to animal health agencies, Minnesota Public Radio reported. However, the program does not cover the birds that fall ill with the virus and die. Klobuchar, D-Minnesota, says it should, particularly since in some cases, several thousand birds in one operation die.
The avian influenza situation demonstrates that poultry and livestock producers need an insurance program to compensate them for catastrophic disease losses, Klobuchar said, similar to a crop insurance program that covers losses.
"Your force here is not a tornado or a drought," she said. "Your force here is a disease that is spreading across the poultry in the country."
Avian influenza has caused the losses of several million chickens and turkeys since it was first confirmed in the United States in January 2015. Minnesota, the nation’s largest turkey producer, has had more avian influenza cases than any other state. But the state’s avian influenza losses have not just been in commercial turkey operations, as one of its most recent confirmed cases was in an egg layer flock, the USDA’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) reported.