WASHINGTON, DC – U.S. Senator Tammy Baldwin has joined a Senate effort to ensure strong support to test for and help limit the spread of Avian flu. According to the Wisconsin Department of Agriculture, Trade and Consumer Protection, Wisconsin now has 10 total cases of H5 Avian flu as of this week. The Centers for Disease Control has determined that this particular viral strain is a low threat to human health and the food supply.
In a letter to key Senate appropriators, the group of seven Senators urge prioritization of future funding for the National Animal Health Laboratory Network (NAHLN), which coordinates all of the testing to limit the spread of animal diseases, including Avian flu.
“The outbreak and spread of [Avian flu] are having severe economic consequences throughout the industry,” the lawmakers wrote. “Across the U.S., an estimated 52,000 family farms that raise poultry are at risk. NAHLN laboratories have been operating at capacity, performing hundreds of tests daily, seven days a week, in order to quickly identify affected farms and enable animal health officials to contain the virus.”
They concluded, “We respectfully request that full funding for the NAHLN be provided so that timely avian influenza testing is maintained.”
The letter, led by Senator Al Franken (D-MN) was also signed by Senators Amy Klobuchar (D-MN), Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY), Angus King (I-ME), Bob Casey (D-PA), and Maria Cantwell (D-WA).
On Monday, Senator Baldwin also joined a letter led by Senator Klobuchar to the Appropriations Subcommittee on Agriculture, Rural Development, Food and Drug Administration, and Related Agencies, urging the Subcommittee to prioritize funding in their FY2016 Appropriations bill to address the ongoing outbreak.
Last week, Senator Baldwin sent a letter to Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack and Office of Management and Budget Secretary Shaun Donovan asking for their continued efforts to deploy federal resources to contain outbreaks of the virus in poultry, and to assist farmers in responding to contamination in their flocks.