$330m of emergency funds added to avian influenza support

By Aidan Fortune

- Last updated on GMT

So far, avian influenza has been confirmed in 14 US states
So far, avian influenza has been confirmed in 14 US states

Related tags Avian influenza Bird Livestock Poultry

The US government has approved the use of $330 million in emergency funds to help combat the growing avian influenza epidemic.

The funds were granted by the Office of Management and Budget, following a request by US Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack.

The United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) had initially set aside $84.5m to compensate farmers, with the newly-approved extra funds to be used for the expected increase in indemnity claims as well as the sanitation of equipment and culling of inflected flocks.

A spokesperson for the USDA’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) added: "We are confident that support for producers will continue to be adequately funded as needed."

So far, avian influenza has been confirmed in 14 US states, with an estimated 24 million birds infected. Iowa and Minnesota, the nation’s top egg and turkey producing states respectively, are the worst hit.

According to Iowa state agriculture officials, 20 million chickens and turkeys have been infected, while in Minnesota over five million turkeys and chickens have either been killed by the virus or are set to be killed.

Minnesota-based meat plant Jennie-O Turkey Store is to temporarily lay off 233 workers, due to the lack of turkeys available. Although no date has been announced for the workers to return, it hopes to have all staff return when bird numbers return to normal, according to a management statement.

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