8.5 million dollars in drought relief funding and another 1.5 million to respond to the new outbreak of avian flu.
ST.PAUL – The Minnesota Senate today passed significant legislationto help Minnesota Farmers devastated by last year’s drought and invest in preparations for future challenges including the developing avian flu outbreak.
“Last year was a difficult time for many of our livestock and specialty crop farmers, given the drought conditions in many areas around the state,” Chief Author and Senate Agriculture Committee Chairman Senator Torrey Westrom said. “These grants will provide help to livestock farmers to get them through this spring and into a new growing season. It will also help prepare us against impending animal disease outbreaks including the avian flu.”
The $10 million bill, S.F. 3479, appropriates $7 million for grants of up to $5,000 for livestock and specialty crop farmers located in counties that were designated as a primary natural disaster area by the USDA between July 20 and December 31, 2021. It’s estimated to cover all or parts of 67 Minnesota counties. Grants are to be awarded on a first-come, first-served, non-competitive basis. Further, the bill includes $1.5 million to the Rural Finance Authority (RFA) to reimburse them for drought relief loans that they have already processed or are currently processing.
In addition to the urgent need for drought relief, Minnesota farmers are facing impending animal disease threats from African Swine Fever (ASF) and highly pathogenic avian influenza (HPAI). Just this week the avian flu spread to Minnesota flocks. To prevent an agricultural disaster, this package includes $1 million for the Veterinary Diagnostic Laboratory (VDL) at the University of Minnesota to purchase equipment to test for avian influenza, African Swine Fever, chronic wasting disease (CWD), and other animal diseases. The bill also unlocks $426,000 that is currently in the Minnesota Department of Agriculture’s Agricultural Emergency Account to purchase poultry drinking water tests for HIPAI. Lastly, $500,000 is included for transfer into the account for further animal disease testing and response.
The House companion bill, H.F. 3420, passed on the House floor on March 10th. If the House chooses not to concur with the Senate language, then the legislation will go to a conference committee to reconcile the differences between the two bills.
Avian influenza or bird flu refers to the disease caused by infection with avian (bird) influenza (flu) Type A viruses. These viruses naturally spread among wild aquatic birds worldwide and can infect domestic poultry and other bird and animal species. Bird flu viruses do not normally infect humans. However, sporadic human infections with bird flu viruses have occurred. The links below offer more information about bird flu.