U.S. Sens. Jon Ossoff and Raphael Warnock are urging U.S. Secretary of Agriculture, Tom Vilsack, to prioritize increased funding for research on highly pathogenic avian influenza (HPAI) and other diseases that adversely affect the poultry industry.

The two senators, both Democrats from Georgia, wrote a letter to Vilsack last week, stressing how important it is to fund research facilities in their state as the industry struggles with HPAI. The United States Department of Agriculture is presently finalizing priorities for its fiscal year 2024 budget request.

“Georgia leads the nation in production of broiler chickens and is home to the nation’s leading poultry research laboratories, including the U.S. National Poultry Research Center, the Poultry Diagnostic and Research Center at the University of Georgia, and the Georgia Poultry Lab,” the senators wrote.

“The avian influenza outbreaks now affecting nearly every state, including Georgia, increase the urgency of funding for the labs and their research work. Additional funding for poultry research is needed to help leading scientists and researchers develop control, treatment, and containment methods and to ensure facilities have the latest technology and infrastructure to support this work. We look forward to working with the Department of Agriculture to support deployment of research funds supporting this important industry. Thank you for your consideration of our request.”

In a press release from Ossoff’s office, the state’s senior senator explained that HPAI could also have “serious public health consequences and affect the industry’s production capacity, and that research is key to better understanding the virus, how it spreads and how to develop effective treatments.


In their letter, Ossoff and Warnock also asked Vilsack to consider increased funding for poultry processing and production research.

Ossoff and Warnock were both first sworn into to the U.S. Senate on January 20, 2021. However, Ossoff was named the senior senator because he was elected to a full six-year term, whereas Warnock won a special election to fill out the remainder of the term formerly held by Sen. Johnny Isakson, a former co-chair of the Senate Chicken Caucus who stepped down because of health reasons. Warnock recently was re-elected after being challenged by Republican Hershel Walker.

To learn more about HPAI cases in commercial poultry flocks in North America, see an interactive map on WATTPoultry.com. 

Read our ongoing coverage of the global avian influenza outbreak.