ST. PAUL – In an effort to address the avian flu outbreak that is devastating Minnesota's turkey growers, State Representative Tim Miller (R-Prinsburg) is sponsoring legislation that will help Minnesota agencies respond to the problem.
"Minnesota is the top producer of turkeys in the nation, and the outbreak has caused more than one million birds to be destroyed," Miller said. "Our poultry producers need our help right now."
Miller's bill would appropriate nearly $1 million to the Department of Agriculture and Board of Animal Health in order to better prevent and respond to the avian influenza outbreak.
Minnesota produces about 46 million turkeys a year, more than any other state. Many turkey farms are located in western Minnesota, specifically in Swift, Chippewa, Renville, and Kandiyohi counties.
Miller stressed that the Minnesota Department of Agriculture, the United States Department of Agriculture, and specifically the University of Minnesota's Turkey Diagnostic Center in Willmar have done a great job so far of responding to the avian flu outbreak, but as this crisis continues its clear more resources will be needed.
"We can't sit back and hope this problem will go away," Miller said. "Turkey production is a critical industry in the State of Minnesota, and we need to do all we can to prevent further spread of this dangerous disease."
A similar version of Miller's bill was approved by the Minnesota House on April 16. Avian flu language is also included in the Minnesota House omnibus agriculture finance proposal, which will receive a full House debate in the coming days.