Iowa Secretary of Agriculture Bill Northey has requested an additional $150,000 for the Iowa Department of Agriculture and Land Stewardship’s Animal Industry Bureau to provide additional support for preparations for and potential response to a foreign animal disease outbreak.

“Due to the challenging budget situation, we have put forward a lean budget proposal with the only request for additional funding being a $150,000 increase for our foreign animal disease response planning efforts. I do believe it is important we continue to invest in priority areas, including taking steps to better protect our state’s vitally important animal industry,” Northey said.

The state’s agriculture agency received $100,000 in funding at the beginning of the 2017 fiscal year to support preparations for a disease outbreak, and a portion of that funding was used to hire Judith LaBounty, a new emergency management veterinarian. If the agency gets the additional funds, they would used to accelerate work on emergency response plans, to organize disease response exercises and expand coordination efforts with industry partners.

In 2015, Iowa lost more birds to the avian influenza outbreak than any other state, with 31.5 million chickens and turkeys being lost at 77 farms. Of those operations, 35 commercial turkey flocks, 22 commercial egg flocks, 13 pullet flocks, one chicken breeding operation and five backyard flocks were affected.

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Iowa, the nation’s largest pork-producing state, was also heavily hit by the porcine epidemic diarrhea virus (PEDv) outbreak of 2013.

Other requests for funding

In addition to requesting the additional funds for animal disease emergencies, Northey also requested continued funding to support the Renewable Fuels Infrastructure Program and the Agricultural Drainage Well Closure Program.

Northey still awaits USDA confirmation

Northey is currently serving in his third term as Iowa’s agriculture secretary. He has been nominated by President Donald Trump to become the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s under secretary of agriculture for farm production and conservation. However, Northey remains as the Iowa agriculture secretary because he has not yet been confirmed by the U.S. Senate.