Vilsack: Dairy trade implications of H5N1 minimal so far

Most trading partners 'understand that we’re on top of this,' US agriculture secretary says.

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U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack said trading partners have been made aware of the situation with H5N1 detections in dairy cattle and, so far, the trade implications have not been substantial.

Vilsack addressed the situation during a hearing with U.S. senators on April 16.

Sen. Jerry Moran, R-Kansas, told Vilsack he was concerned about how the presence of H5N1 has been confirmed at multiple dairies in Kansas and in other states, and asked him how he felt that these infections will impact international trade.

While Vilsack said a lot needs to be learned about H5N1 and its impact on cattle, the U.S. government has been transparent about the situation with its trading partners.

“We’ve made a concerted effort to reach out to our trading partners and, so far, I think there’s been an understanding and appreciation for the amount of information we’ve provided our trade partners. We’ve seen very little restriction, if you will,” said Vilsack.

The agriculture secretary acknowledged that “a couple of countries” have expressed concerns, but officials from the majority of those countries have been understanding.

“For the most part, our trading partners understand that we’re on top of this, that we expect and anticipate our dairy cows to recover,” he said.

“We’re going to continue to do a lot of research on this, so that we understand and appreciate the transition and transmission of this. We know that there’s heavy virus in the milk. We know that milk that was pasteurized is safe, but there may very well be a circumstance or situation where we need to be ever vigilant in terms of biosecurity, especially around the milking parlor.”

Vilsack also mentioned that some farms in the U.S. have dairy and poultry operations, and he stressed that even more stringent biosecurity efforts at those farms will need to be examined.

To date, according to the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS), the following states have had confirmed cases of H5N1 in dairy cattle: Kansas, Texas, New Mexico, South Dakota, North Carolina, Michigan, Ohio and Idaho.

Video footage of the exchange between Vilsack and Moran can be seen on X, the platform formerly known as Twitter.

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