WASHINGTON — Iowa Sens. Chuck Grassley and Joni Ernst yesterday sent a letter to Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack encouraging the department to ensure that resources have been properly deployed to Iowa to fight the ongoing outbreak of Highly Pathogenic Avian Influenza (HPAI). The disease has been detected at more than 30 poultry farms across Iowa.
Grassley and Ernst have heard from Iowa poultry producers concerned about a lack of direction from the department regarding depopulation and repopulation of their flocks, as well as a possible development of a vaccine to combat the deadly virus. Currently more than 25 million birds need to be depopulated.
“I’ve heard from producers that the current pace at which depopulation is occurring may not be fast enough,” said Grassley. “There are additional questions about how long producers will need to leave their barns empty once the depopulation process is complete and sites are deemed free of this disease by testing. USDA could help calm a lot of nerves if they provided answers to a few of these questions. The sooner that clarity can be given on timelines for repopulating buildings, the better prepared everyone will be to make decisions about this crisis.”
Grassley told reporters Tuesday that answers to questions like those would be beneficial for producers who are facing a very different future than they envisioned earlier this spring.
“Some farmers are going to need to make financial arrangements to make it through the summer,” he explained, “and others will have to make decisions about employees. The sooner that clarity can be given on timelines for repopulation, the better prepared everyone can be to make decisions about the crisis.”
“It’s critical that we work as quickly as possible to stop this outbreak of the avian influenza to safeguard Iowa’s poultry and egg producers,” said Ernst. “I have heard their concerns and will continue to push the USDA to take the necessary steps in the disposal, cooperation and preventive measures to combat further spread and assist our producers, rural communities and industry nationwide.”