The state’s poultry industry and Iowa’s secretary of agriculture are asking legislators to set aside more money to prepare for the worst — like another outbreak of the bird flu.
Agriculture Secretary Bill Northey says he needs an extra half million dollars to get more equipment and hire new staff.
“We need some vets…to be able to work with our industry partners all the time,” Northey says, “Both poultry but also our beef and our pork and our dairy and other animals out there and the disease risk that’s there.”
The 2015 bird flu outbreak was the largest animal health disease in U.S. history and resulted in the deaths of 31.5 million chickens and turkeys in Iowa.
Greta Irwin of the Iowa Turkey Federation says the magnitude of last year’s outbreak caught state officials off-guard. “We really see that need to monitor the health of the birds, of the animal, to have someone really helping connect the dots together when we’re lookig at the tests and surveillance of our animals,” Irwin says.
Irwin says last year’s bird flu outbreak in Iowa was made worse by miscommunication and untrained government personnel.
Irwin and Northey made their pitch to a House Committee yesterday. Governor Branstad did not include more money for the animal health initiative in the budget outline he submitted to lawmakers last week.
Thanks to Iowa Public Radio’s Sarah Boden