South Dakota senators urge USDA to combat avian influenza

Senators urge URSDA to battle avian influenza virus
Senators urge URSDA to battle avian influenza virus | Courtesy of
U.S. Sens. Mike Rounds (R-SD) and John Thune (R-SD) recently mailed a letter to U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Secretary Thomas Vilsack, asking that the USDA provide assistance to control the H5N2 avian influenza virus that has been discovered on poultry farms in the state of South Dakota.

“Agriculture is South Dakota’s number one industry and vital to South Dakota’s economy providing a $21.4 billion economic impact each year, directly or indirectly employing 122,000 South Dakotans, and generating 20 percent of the state’s economic activity,” the letter said. “South Dakota agriculture depends heavily on exports and the loss or reduction of foreign turkey product exports would be highly detrimental to that industry in our state.”

Experts state that H5N2 is not a threat to human health, but the virus could decimate the poultry industry in the U.S.

“While not harmful to humans, the bird flu virus has the potential to devastate the entire U.S. poultry industry,” Rounds said. “Already, more than 300,000 South Dakota turkeys have been destroyed. Agriculture is our number one economy in South Dakota, and our poultry farmers rely on exports to foreign markets. It’s important to combat the virus and keep foreign and domestic markets open to poultry products from South Dakota. I urge USDA to utilize its resources to contain this devastating virus.”

To prevent this catastrophe, leaders have asked the USDA to dedicate resources to control the virus.

“The avian influenza virus could significantly damage the growers and processors of South Dakota’s 4.3 million turkeys as well as other poultry producers and egg-laying facilities,” Thune said. “USDA needs to keep continued vigilance focused on containing the virus as well as assuring our trading partners that U.S. poultry products continue to be safe for human consumption.”

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U.S. Department of Agriculture

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