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Legislative News and Views - Rep. Peggy Bennett (R)

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Legislative News from Rep. Peggy Bennett

Thursday, March 31, 2022

Hello from the State Capitol,


There’s troubling news to report in the agricultural industry. Since late November 2021 there have been a number of cases of High Pathogenic Avian Influenza (HPAI) detected in the Eastern and Midwestern United States and Canada, in both wild birds and poultry facilities. It’s a serious disease and requires rapid response because it is highly contagious and often fatal to chickens and turkeys.


We’ve been here before.


You may recall the avian flu outbreak in 2015. At that time, 9 million birds were either killed by the virus or euthanized in order to help slow the flu’s spread. This was not only a crippling blow to our state’s economy, but our poultry farmers and market supply as well. 


In order to help deal with the emergency, the legislature allocated funding and the Minnesota Department of Agriculture (MDA) instituted numerous biosecurity measures designed to slow the spread of avian flu if another outbreak came to Minnesota. Because of this, our state is better prepared to handle a situation than it was seven years ago.


When talking about poultry issues, many of us automatically think of massive turkey farms with hundreds if not thousands of birds that could potentially be at risk. But the reality is, the homeowner that has five chickens in their back yard is just as susceptible to HPAI as any turkey operation, and the results can be equally devastating.


There are a few things we all need to keep in mind. First and foremost, even if there is an outbreak, it remains safe to eat chicken and turkey. If you normally buy these products at the grocery store, continue to do so because there is nothing to fear.


All bird owners, whether commercial producers or backyard enthusiasts, need to continue practicing good biosecurity, preventing contact between their birds and wild birds, and reporting sick birds or unusual bird deaths to your local veterinarian, then to state and federal officials.


Regarding biosecurity, The Minnesota Board of Animal Health has some tips available if you have questions or concerns regarding HPAI. Check out for more information.


Turkey and chicken farmers should also visit Minnesota’s Board of Animal Health websites to learn more about HPAI and what they can do to combat it. Tips for backyard poultry owners can be found at


And it goes without saying that any disease outbreak among livestock can add to stress, financial problems, price and marketing uncertainties, household difficulties, and social pressures. If you’re in need of support, give the Minnesota Farm and Rural Helpline a call any time at 833-600-2670.



It’s always nice to have local visitors at the Capitol! Wednesday, I had a nice visit with local members of the Shell Rock River Watershed District. 

We discussed the final phase of dredging for Fountain Lake, which is a bonding request for this year’s Capital Investment bill. I support this good water quality project and will continue to advocate that its funding be included in the final bonding bill. Thanks to this local group for the great visit!


Have a good weekend,