Iowa delegation presses USDA for more action on H5N1

Preventing and mitigating animal disease is a team effort, Sen. Joni Ernst said.

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Iowa’s U.S. senators and representatives came together to urge the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) to fill research and response gaps as the state’s poultry and dairy producers deal with the H5N1 outbreak.

Led by Sen. Joni Ernst, the Iowa delegation wrote to U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack, stressed the need to continue to work with state leaders to support farmers with animals affected by the virus, while also taking additional measures.

Iowa’s delegation includes Sens. Ernst and Chuck Grassley, and Reps. Randy Feenstra, Ashley Hinson, Zach Nunn and Mariannette Miller-Meeks. All are Republicans.

In the letter, the federal lawmakers asked Vilsack that the agency deliver:

  • A streamlined process for farmers to be compensated for production loss and receive indemnity
  • Compensation for culled dairy cattle at fair market value
  • Compensation for lost milk production at a minimum of 90% of fair market value
  • Revision of poultry indemnity tables to reflect the fair market value of impacted birds
  • An accelerated focus on research to strengthen producer mitigation strategies

In 2024 alone, Iowa has had two commercial turkey operations and one commercial egg operation affected by H5N1 highly pathogenic avian influenza (HPAI). Eleven commercial dairies in Iowa have also had cattle infected.

“Preventing and mitigating animal disease is a team effort,” Ernst said in a press release. “The livelihoods of our farmers, the stability of our local economies, and the broader food supply chain are all on the line, so we must have all hands on deck in the fight against avian flu. I’m working hard to ensure our producers and state leaders have the tools they need to stop the spread, and I urge the USDA to join me in making it a top priority.”

Ernst’s press release concerning the letter also included comments of support from Mike Naig, Iowa secretary of agriculture, as well as leaders from the Iowa Turkey Federation Iowa State Dairy Association, North Central Poultry Association and Iowa Egg Council.

To learn more about HPAI cases in commercial poultry flocks in the United States, Mexico and Canada, see an interactive map on   

View our continuing coverage of the global avian influenza situation

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