Klobuchar was joined by Agriculture Commissioner Dave Frederickson, Health Commissioner Ed Ehlinger, and the Minnesota Board of Animal Health to discuss a coordinated response to the avian flu affecting turkey growers across the state; Klobuchar will also meet with turkey growers later this week in southwest Minnesota
Klobuchar also sent a letter today to U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Secretary Tom Vilsack to ensure needed resources are available to quickly contain the disease and support impacted turkey growers
Washington, DC – U.S. Senator Amy Klobuchar met today with Minnesota Agriculture Commissioner Dave Frederickson, Minnesota Health Commissioner Dr. Ed Ehlinger, the Minnesota Board of Animal Health, and other state and federal officials to discuss the importance of a coordinated response to the avian flu affecting turkey growers across the state. Klobuchar also plans to meet with turkey growers later this week in southwest Minnesota.
“Minnesota leads the nation in turkey production and we must do everything possible to keep this critical industry strong,” Klobuchar said. “The avian flu does not threaten our food supply or pose any risks to humans, but there are still serious animal health and export implications for Minnesota turkey growers. I will continue to work with the USDA and our state partners to ensure a strong coordinated response that contains this disease and protects Minnesota turkey growers.”
Klobuchar also sent a letter today to U.S. Department of Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack encouraging him to continue working with state and local officials while ensuring all available measures and resources are available to control the spread of the virus. The letter also encourages the USDA to distribute indemnity payments to turkey growers experiencing losses in a timely fashion.
The full text of the letter is below:
Dear Secretary Vilsack:
As you know, in the last month there have been several new confirmed cases of the H5N2 avian influenza virus in Minnesota. Minnesota leads the country in turkey production and processing, raising 46 million turkeys annually. While State Health Commissioner Ed Ehlinger confirmed that the virus poses no risk to humans or public health and our food system is safe, these cases may have a significant impact on Minnesota’s turkey industry, which is critical to our state’s economy.
I commend the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) for its quick response, and for its collaboration with the Minnesota turkey industry, the Minnesota Board of Animal Health, and other state and federal agencies to protect Minnesota’s turkey flocks from further spread of the virus.
Indemnity payments provided by APHIS are an important resource for farmers experiencing losses due to the virus. I encourage you to continue distributing these payments in a timely fashion to affected farmers. In the event that existing APHIS funding is not sufficient to provide H5N2 surveillance, reporting, and control measures or indemnity payments to affected producers, I urge you to take all necessary steps to provide additional emergency funding.
Further, Minnesota is the fourth largest agricultural exporting state in the country, with our agriculture exports reaching a record high of $8.2 billion in 2012. I share your concern that confirmed H5N2 cases may cause importing countries to impose restrictions on poultry, and I urge you to continue to work with our trading partners to minimize these restrictions and any resulting negative economic impact.
Thank you for your work on behalf of Minnesota’s turkey producers, and I look forward to continuing to work with you until the H5N2 virus is eradicated in my state and across the country.