U.S. Sen. Tammy Baldwin
Press Release

Baldwin, Bipartisan Group of Senators Urge USDA to Strengthen Coordination in Avian Flu Outbreak Response

Letter comes after Baldwin called on Biden Administration to take immediate action to contain the avian flu outbreak and protect dairy farmers, producers, and consumers

By - May 7th, 2024 08:46 am

WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Senator Tammy Baldwin (D-WI) and a bipartisan group of her colleagues called on U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Secretary Tom Vilsack to strengthen interagency coordination in the avian flu outbreak response. The senators urge the USDA, Food and Drug Administration, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and other necessary agencies to continue to provide the public and state agencies with coordinated, up-to-date, and accurate information on the spread of Highly Pathogenic Avian Influenza (HPAI), also known as H5N1, particularly around the safety of the U.S. commercial milk or meat supply, and the risk to farmworker health.

“The spread of the strain to livestock, including goats and cattle, and a farmworker in Texas, underscores the urgency required to confront this outbreak through a collaborative federal response, heightened surveillance, and additional resources to support vaccine research,” wrote the senators.

“As the wild bird migration continues this spring, we stand ready to work with you and department staff to contain and stop this outbreak and minimize harm to rural America,” continued the senators.

Days after the news broke of the avian flu being detected in dairy cattle, Senator Baldwin called on the USDA to immediately deploy additional resources to contain the spread of disease, including public education sessions, working with farmers to improve biosecurity, and providing ongoing disease exposure trends and education materials to protect Wisconsin dairy farmers, producers, and consumers.

In addition to Senator Baldwin, the letter was signed by Senators Amy Klobuchar (D-MN),  John Cornyn (R-TX), Debbie Stabenow (D-MI), John Boozman (R-AR), John Thune (R-SD), John Fetterman (D-PA), Thom Tillis (R-NC), Martin Heinrich (D-NM), Chuck Grassley (R-IA), Ben Ray Luján (D-NM), Joni Ernst (R-IA), Tina Smith (D-MN), Mike Rounds (R-SD), Mark Warner (D-VA), Jerry Moran (R-KS), and Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY).

The full letter is available here and below.

Dear Secretary Vilsack,

As you are aware, every state in the nation has been hit with a recent outbreak of Highly Pathogenic Avian Influenza (HPAI) due to its spread from migratory waterfowl to domestic bird populations and commercial poultry. The spread of the strain to livestock, including goats and cattle, and a farmworker in Texas, underscores the urgency required to confront this outbreak through a collaborative federal response, heightened surveillance, and additional resources to support vaccine research.

The evolving risk this outbreak poses demands a broad, coordinated approach from the U.S. Department of Agriculture, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the Food and Drug Administration, state and local partners, and researchers. Previous outbreaks have benefited from a consortium strategy wherein the USDA brought together the brightest minds in epidemiology and animal health research to lessen the potential economic and societal cost of the spread. We ask that the USDA take a similar approach — including additional research on wild bird deterrents, vaccines, and advanced biosecurity practices — when combating the current outbreak. A successful response to this outbreak demands a commitment to keeping farmers, ranchers, and veterinarians informed of the latest developments while efficiently coordinating mitigation efforts. This includes increasing genomic pathogen surveillance and rapid dissemination of genomic sequence data.

It is critical that the USDA, FDA, CDC, and other agencies as necessary continue to provide the public with coordinated, up-to-date, and accurate information on the spread of HPAI, particularly around the safety of the U.S. commercial milk or meat supply and the risk to human health. As the wild bird migration continues this spring, we stand ready to work with you and department staff to contain and stop this outbreak and minimize harm to rural America.

Thank you for your attention to this important matter.

An online version of this release is available here.

NOTE: This press release was submitted to Urban Milwaukee and was not written by an Urban Milwaukee writer. It has not been verified for its accuracy or completeness.

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