Senators Send Letter For Bird Flu Relief

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DES MOINES, Iowa -- High-pathogenic avian influenza continues to sweep through Iowa’s laying hen population, with as much as one third of Iowa’s layer flock affected in the most recent estimate from the Iowa Department of Agriculture.

If avian flu is confirmed in each flock, those roughly 20 million birds will be humanely euthanized to control the spread of the disease, and Iowa’s egg production will plummet until egg farms are restocked.

That’s bad news for Iowa’s egg industry, as Senator Chuck Grassley told reporters in a press call, ”One out of five eggs in the United States comes from the state of Iowa, so we’re a major producer. And it’s going to have great economic harm for the individual businesspeople, and also for the economy of Iowa as a whole, probably increasing consumer prices to some extent.”

Grassley also expects widespread layoffs, as egg production will come to a halt on infected farms.

On Monday, Grassley and 14 other senators sent a letter to the Senate Appropriations Committee, urging appropriators to move funding for avian influenza recovery efforts to the top of their priorities.

Grassley said he expects the funding to support egg producers to be sufficient, but also noted that producers are waiting on government officials to tell them when they can repopulate, otherwise they risk losing federal assistance in doing so.

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