Branstad, Vilsack Comment on Avian Flu Outbreak at National Conference

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DES MOINES, Iowa – Governor Terry Branstad and U.S. Ag Secretary Tom Vilsack commented on the current status of the avian flu outbreak on Tuesday.

While speaking at a national conference held in downtown Des Moines, Vilsack started things off with some good news.

“Because we haven't had a new incident since mid-June, we’re seeing this ramp up fairly quickly, our hope is by the end of the summer we're in a position to get people back into business in the 21 states that have been impacted,” Vilsack said.

Producers can now finally start making money again, and consumers can save money after dealing with skyrocketing meat and egg prices recently.

Vilsack says the USDA will never know with 100 percent certainty how the outbreak started. However, they believe it started with wild geese and ducks getting into facilities, and was spread when trucks and workers moved from barn to barn and farm to farm.

Since the outbreak, the USDA has hired more than 3,000 people to help with investigations and cleanup. While looking back on what has already occurred, both Vilsack and Governor Branstad said there is a more important focus right now.

“The concern is what happens when the temperatures go down and we have duck and geese migrations in the fall,” Branstad said. “There’s the potential for this again. We want to be as prepared as we can and do everything we can from a bio security perspective to avoid it reoccurring and having it spread like it did this spring.”

Secretary Vilsack added that the USDA task force is already at work planning for that worst case scenario, if it becomes reality.

Branstad also announced Tuesday that he is extending the State of Disaster Emergency in response to the avian flu outbreak through Aug. 30. It's the third extension Branstad has announced since the initial proclamation.