by Ben Nuelle
The first day of spring came Sunday and with spring comes migrating birds. According to an Iowa Farm Bureau study in August, last year’s bird flu outbreak cost Iowa $1.2 billion. Joyce Flinn is Operations Division Administrator at Iowa Homeland Security and Emergency Management.
Flinn says plans are in place in case another outbreak occurs.
“Our preparations for avian influenza include, pre-staging of equipment around the state that can be used in the euthanasia of birds. The ready access to this equipment in quick humane euthanasia to contain the spread of this disease. Disaster preparedness is a partnership. Not just between government and responders but with citizens as well who must be ready to be able to take care of themselves and those they love in case of an emergency,” Flinn says.
Iowa Governor Terry Branstad says state officials have learned a lot since last year’s outbreak.
“We have improved the coordination from the USDA and Homeland Security emergency management and other agencies on the state level. Because of that experience I think we are much better prepared and as you heard we already have key things deployed around the state in preparation in the event an outbreak does occur,” Branstad says. “We certainly hope it will not and we are trying to do everything we can to try to prevent it.
Back in November, Iowa Agriculture Secretary Bill Northey sought $500 million to help with bird flu prevention. He did not get it. Branstad says this year’s budget is tight and they are doing everything they can to prepare if another bird flu outbreak happens.
“We just had the revenue estimate come out here reducing the revenue estimate. We want to work with the legislature in dealing with financial realities of the fact that Iowa and the bird flu and reduction in farm income is certainly one of the factors that has made it a more difficult budgeting year,” Branstad says.