Supporting dairy producers affected by bird flu

Supporting dairy producers affected by bird flu
May 13, 2024

USDA and HHS are providing almost $200 million in resources

By Diego Flammini
Staff Writer

Two federal agencies are providing hundreds of millions of dollars in resources to support the dairy industry as it navigates cases of bird flu in dairy herds and dairy products.

The USDA and the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) are providing $199 million to help farmers and health researchers keep American livestock, food and people safe.

This support includes:

  • Up to $2,000 per premises per month for producers who supply PPE for employees and/or uniform laundering,
  • Up to $1,500 per premises to develop biosecurity plans. And $100 payments for dairy farmers who purchase an in-line sampler for milk systems, and
  • Compensation for producers whose herds have tested positive for avian flu and experienced milk loss.

In total, farms can receive up to $28,000 over the next four months.

“I think it’s fair to say that our top priority at USDA, given our mission, is to contain this as an animal health event,” Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack said Friday, CNN Health reported. “Ultimately, we want to eliminate the virus in the industry and develop over time a vaccine to prevent another emergency of H5N1 in cattle.”

The dairy industry is applauding the USDA’s support for farmers.

The National Milk Producers Federation “thanks Secretary Vilsack and federal leadership for effectively using their existing authorities to offer necessary assistance for dairy farmers as they meet the challenges of H5N1 in dairy cattle,” NMPF President Greg Doud said in a statement. “Care for farm workers and animals is critical for milk producers, as is protecting against potential human health risks and reassuring the public.

“We look forward to continued collaboration and consultation with USDA and other federal agencies as we monitor, understand, and contain this outbreak, and we will do what we can to help dairy farmers understand and benefit from these initiatives as swift implementation is put into motion.”

In addition, HHS will fund research to test, prevent and treat H5N1, including retail milk and dairy test sampling.

HHS Secretary Xavier Becerra participated in the same call as Secretary Vilsack on Friday.

He reiterated to reporters that “the risk to the public from the outbreak remains low.”

As of May 9, 36 dairy herds in nine states are affected by outbreaks of bird flu, the CDC says.

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