Leaders from the U.S. Senate and House agriculture committees called for emergency assistance to be released to poultry and egg producers who have suffered losses due to highly pathogenic H5N2 avian influenza infections.

Senate Agriculture Committee Chairman Pat Roberts, R-Kansas, and House Agriculture Committee Chairman K. Michael Conaway, R-Texas, along with ranking committee members Sen. Debbie Stabenow, D-Michigan, and Rep. Collin Peterson, D-Minnesota, sent a letter on April 29 to the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) and to Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack.

“As leadership of the House and Senate agriculture committees, we write to express our extreme concern regarding highly pathogenic avian influenza (HPAI) H5N2 infections that continue to impact our nation’s poultry and egg laying flocks. We recognize the recent support USDA and OMB have extended to the impacted areas and look forward to continuing to work together to mitigate this dangerous situation. This virus is proving incredibly infectious, affecting nearly 100 farms in over a dozen states and requiring the depopulation of approximately eight million birds in agriculture production across the country. Despite extreme precautions taken by farmers to protect the health of their flocks and the best scientific minds in the country working to halt the spread of HPAI, this virus continues to infect farms across the country and requires significant resources to curtail its effects,” the congressional leaders wrote. 

“The spread of HPAI is causing widespread economic devastation throughout rural communities, and we request OMB to assist USDA in alleviating this impact by providing prompt emergency assistance through the release of CCC funds as intended by Congress.”  

The letter further pointed out that there currently is no vaccine available for H5N2 avian influenza, making the need for more assistance to poultry farmers all the more urgent.