Capital Clicks

Grassley calls for more federal funding to combat bird flu

By: - May 10, 2022 2:07 pm

Wild, migrating birds are transmitting a deadly avian influenza to domestic flocks in Iowa with increasing frequency. (Photo by Stephen Ausmus/Animal Research Services, USDA)

Following the destruction of more than 13 million Iowa birds, Sen. Chuck Grassley led a call for more federal funding to combat the latest bout of highly contagious and deadly avian influenza.

A new letter, signed by Grassley, Minnesota Sen. Amy Klobuchar and nine other senators, asks for the fiscal year 2023 budget to include “robust funding” to combat the highly pathogenic avian influenza (HPAI) outbreak.

“Given the recent outbreak, the ongoing increase in confirmed HPAI cases, and the likelihood of further spread, we urge the Subcommittee to make funding for the … avian health program a high priority,” the letter reads.

President Joe Biden requested $65 million for the program, which is managed by the Department of Agriculture. That would be just a $2 million increase over the past two years.

The letter does not identify a specific appropriations request to combat this year’s flu.

In Iowa, 13.4 million birds have been destroyed this year after exposure to the virus. Iowa is the nation’s top egg producer, making the state especially susceptible to avian outbreaks because of its large flocks.

Chloe Carson, a spokesperson for the Iowa Department of Agriculture and Land Stewardship, told the Iowa Capital Dispatch last week that she was “hopeful that things are winding down,” but it was still too early to tell if outbreaks would continue.

“We are extremely pleased with our ability to respond quickly to control and eradicate the disease,” Carson said.

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Katie Akin
Katie Akin

Katie Akin is a former Iowa Capital Dispatch reporter. Katie began her career as an intern at PolitiFact, debunking viral fake news and fact-checking state and national politicians. She moved to Iowa in 2019 for a politics internship at the Des Moines Register, where she assisted with Iowa Caucus coverage, multimedia projects and the Register’s Iowa Poll. She became the Register’s retail reporter in early 2020, chronicling the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on Central Iowa’s restaurants and retailers.