Vilsack says double down on farm biosecurity to prevent H5N1

Photo: Wisconsin Ag Secretary Randy Romanski and USDA Secretary Tom Vilsack

The Secretary of Agriculture urges farmers to double down on farm biosecurity. 

With another human case of the H5N1 virus in Michigan, Tom Vilsack says sick cows should not leave the farm and workers should be protected. “We’re providing financial resources to encourage farms to plan biosecurity plans, strengthen biosecurity plans. We’re providing resources to reimburse for affected facilities that have workers who may be exposed.”

USDA and the Centers for Disease Control have issued H5N1 guidelines, and Vilsack says USDA wants to help affected farms. “We’re working on a way to reimburse for the loss of milk productivity tha thappens when a cow is impacted by the virus.”

Vilsack says USDA is urging states like Michigan to look at prohibiting in-state movement of cows. “Right now, USDA doesn’t have the jurisdiction to do that. Only commissioners of agriculture have the jurisdiction within their own state in terms of movement, so we’re hopeful that people are being very careful about the movement of cows.”

Vilsack says H5N1 isn’t a food safety issue. “Pasteurization works. It’s been working for quite a while now.”

USDA says the H5N1 avian influenza virus has been largely spread by wild birds and has spread to dairy herds in nine states. Texas, Ohio, Michigan, South Dakota, Kansas, Colorado, Idaho, New Mexico, and North Carolina all have herds that contracted the virus.

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