U.S. Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack is calling on congress to allocate funding for an insurance program for farmers affected by avian influenza.
Speaking to a congressional oversight committee, Vilsack said he thinks such an insurance program was left off the most current farm bill for budgetary reasons, reported the Grand Forks Herald.
“I would strongly urge the Congress as it begins the process of considering future farm bills, to look for a way in which that issue could be addressed,” Vilsack said.
The idea of avian influenza insurance for producers is supported by Sen. Al Franken, a Democrat from Minnesota, the state that in 2015 has had the most confirmed cases of avian influenza.
"When wild bird migrations resume in the fall, there is a very real possibility that avian flu will return, and we need to make sure that producers are able to manage that risk. That's why together with the Minnesota Congressional delegation, I urged Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack to expedite the USDA's study looking at the feasibility of an insurance program for poultry producers to help protect them against catastrophic losses due to diseases-such as avian influenza,” said Franken.
"And you know, right now as a grower you can insure your barn against all kinds of damage, but the birds inside, at risk of avian flu and other disease outbreaks-well, there's nowhere to turn for that. Our poultry industry is so critical to rural communities in Minnesota, and we need to make sure it can continue to thrive."
Franken’s colleage, Sen. Amy Klobuchar, also a Minnesota Democrat, has also advocated for an avian influenza insurance program.