From the House Committee on Agriculture:
Today, Rep. David Rouzer (NC-7), Chairman of the House Agriculture Subcommittee on Livestock and Foreign Agriculture, held a public hearing to examine the federal and state response to avian influenza.
Identified as one of the worst animal disease outbreaks the U.S. has ever experienced, the disease infected more than 220 farms in 21 states. As a result, nearly 48 million chickens and turkeys have been depopulated and millions of dollars have been spent to aid in response efforts. Members heard from representatives from the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) and state officials who have taken part in the response effort and discussed the successes and challenges of the process.
“The impact of the avian influenza outbreak has been devastating, and it is essential that we learn from the outbreak this past spring and put in place the proper steps to minimize the impact of a possible outbreak in the Southeast when the temperatures decrease this fall. Today, we heard what was done right during the response and where there are still opportunities for improvement. As we continue our oversight, we will certainly consider any suggestions to modify our policies in order to expedite and improve the efficacy of our animal disease response capabilities. I want to thank our witnesses for testifying today and for providing their insight on this very important issue,” said Subcommittee Chairman Rouzer.
“The outbreak of this highly pathogenic disease is one of the worst we have ever seen in the U.S. It is absolutely vital that USDA and vulnerable states are prepared to respond quickly if this outbreak returns in the fall, as is expected. Both USDA and the states have put forth great effort to isolate this disease and mitigate loss these past few months, and I thank them for their hard work,” said Agriculture Committee Chairman K. Michael Conaway.
Dr. David Swayne, Laboratory Director, Southeast Poultry Research Laboratory, USDA Agricultural Research Services, Athens, GA
Dr. John Clifford, Deputy Administrator, Veterinary Services, USDA Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service, Washington, DC
Dr. R. Douglas Meckes, State Veterinarian, North Carolina Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services, Raleigh, NC
Dr. Bill Hartmann, Executive Director, Minnesota Board of Animal Health, St. Paul, MN