Senator: Don’t cut USDA funds during avian flu crisis
Sen. Charles Schumer says agency needs money for vaccine development, biosecurity measures and response measures
U.S. Sen. Charles Schumer is urging his colleagues in Congress not to approve the proposed $500 million in cuts to the United States Department of Agriculture’s budget, stating that the agency needs the money to deal with the current avian influenza outbreak.
Avian influenza has affected more than 48 million birds in the United States, which has caused an egg shortage and a subsequent hike in egg prices. Schumer points out that the virus has affected not only egg producers, but all of the companies and consumers who purchase eggs, egg products, or food products containing eggs as an ingredient.
“When the cost of eggs skyrockets, we all feel it in our wallets because, unlike other foods, most egg substitutes use egg ingredients. Yet, despite being hit with one of the worst bird flu outbreaks of our generation and sky-high egg prices, Congress is looking to slash $500 million from the USDA’s budget to beat back avian influenza. This funding can be used towards preventing the outbreak from spreading. I am urging Congress to give USDA the funds it needs before the egg shortage gets worse, and before grocery bills continue to rise,” said Schumer, D-New York.
Schumer adds that those funds in question need to be used to help pay for efforts like the development of avian influenza vaccines, biosecurity measures to help farmers reduce the spread of the virus, and USDA response measures.