SAINT PAUL, Minn. – Today, the Minnesota House voted to invest $1 million in the state’s response to H5N1 Highly Pathogenic Avian Influenza (HPAI) in Minnesota. The funding will be used for testing supplies and other emergency response activities, including disease surveillance.
“HPAI is an urgent problem for poultry producers in Minnesota. This is certainly a challenge, but our state Agriculture Department, Board of Animal Health and others are well prepared to respond to the crisis,” said Rep. Mike Sundin (DFL – Esko), chair of the House Agriculture Committee. “The investment we’re making today on a bipartisan basis will help keep our state’s poultry industry thriving and protect Minnesota turkeys from Avian Influenza.”
HPAI was first detected in Minnesota on March 25 and since has been found in flocks in 12 counties. More than 1 million birds have been impacted so far. Last week, Governor Walz announced the activation of a U.S. Department of Agriculture emergency response team in Minnesota to support the state’s disease control and containment efforts. The governor also signed an executive order waiving certain trucking regulations to help fight the spread of HPAI and mitigate the risk to the poultry industry. The Minnesota Board of Animal Health has also issued a 31-day statewide ban on all poultry sales and exhibitions effective Friday, April 1 through Sunday, May 1.
HPAI poses little or no risk to humans, and turkey available for purchase to consumers is safe to eat. Minnesota is the top turkey producer in the country, with 660 turkey farms that raise about 40 million birds annually. To prevent the spread among backyard or other noncommercial flocks, the University of Minnesota Extension encourages bird owners to separate their flocks from disease sources, separate new or returning birds from existing flocks for 30 days, clean poultry areas and equipment, and avoid sharing equipment among neighbors.
Earlier in the day, the Minnesota Senate amended a bill authored by Rep. Ginny Klevorn (DFL – Plymouth), which the House had previously passed, regarding data privacy for farmers seeking mental health assistance to include emergency Avian Flu funding.
“Minnesota poultry farmers are relying on a robust emergency response and I’m glad we could find a solution with the Senate,” said Rep. Klevorn. “We also found compromise on a plan to protect the privacy of rural Minnesotans seeking and using mental health services. Both are important steps forward for Minnesota.”
Additional information about HPAI is available from the Minnesota Board of Animal Health. The bill now goes to Governor Walz for his signature.