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Minnesota Department of Ag seeking more money for avian flu

Highly pathogenic avian influenza has been found in 71 Minnesota poultry farms, affecting almost 3 million birds.

A sign at Ferndale Market saying visitors are not allowed because of health concerns related to bird flu.
Ferndale Market in Cannon Falls, Minnesota, is not allowing visitors past the parking lot of its retail store because of health concerns related to avian flu.
Jeff Beach / Agweek
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ST. PAUL — Minnesota's agriculture commissioner says his department will need about $4 million to deal with the avian flu outbreak in the state.

The Minnesota Legislature already has passed $1 million in emergency funding, but on Monday, May 9, Commissioner Thom Petersen told legislators that the Agriculture Department will need another $3 million.

Petersen made his comments to the conference committee working on the supplement budget bill for agriculture, housing and broadband.

The Agriculture Department had made a request for $1.5 million in the ag bill to be used in the case of several different emergency scenarios, such as an outbreak of African swine fever or hoof and mouth disease.

But high pathogenic avian influenza, mostly spread by wild birds, has been taxing state resources.

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Bird flu has been found in 71 poultry farms, affecting almost 3 million birds.

Minnesota is the largest turkey producer in the nation, and as the flu hit the state in late March, it was mostly affecting large turkey farms. But nine of the last 11 cases have been in smaller backyard flocks, ranging from 16 to 90 birds.

Petersen said the rate of new cases is slowing.

Petersen said in an interview after the meeting that while there has been some clustering of cases in Chisago, Anoka and Carver counties, the cases do not seem to be related, but are wild bird transmissions.

That is unlike the bird flu outbreak of 2015 when there were farm-to-farm transmissions.

Petersen said some of the first farms affected are coming out of quarantine and will need to meet conditions laid out by the Minnesota Board of Animal Health to bring birds back.

Petersen said the emergency money needed could be included in the larger supplemental ag budget or as part of a drought aid emergency funding bill that also remains in conference committee. The legislative session ends May 23.

Reach Jeff Beach at jbeach@agweek.com or call 701-451-5651 (work) or 859-420-1177.
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