Walz signs bill with $1M in emergency bird flu response

(ABC 6 News) – Friday, Governor Tim Walz signed Chapter 47, HF 3217 into law, advancing the state’s continued efforts to control and contain H5N1 Highly Pathogenic Avian Influenza (HPAI) in Minnesota.

The legislation includes $1 million for emergency response activities, including disease surveillance and purchasing testing supplies, as well as provisions to protect the privacy of farmers and flock owners who seek mental health care. The current HPAI outbreak in Minnesota poses a high risk to poultry but a low risk to the public, and there is no food safety concern for consumers.

The bill helps protect the privacy of Minnesotans who seek mental or behavioral health assistance or who contact the Minnesota Farm and Rural Helpline by preventing public access to information collected and maintained by the Minnesota Department of Agriculture, the Minnesota State college and university system, and other pass-through recipients.

Last week, Governor Walz announced the activation of a United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) emergency response team in Minnesota to support the state’s disease control and containment efforts of H5N1. The USDA emergency team is working with the state’s Agricultural Incident Management Team – a team of experts from the Minnesota Board of Animal Health and the Minnesota Department of Agriculture – to respond to the incident, including quarantining the infected flocks, supporting infected-site response activities, engaging in disease surveillance, and coordinating state and federal logistics and finances. Governor Walz also signed Executive Order 22-05, waiving trucking regulations to help fight the spread of avian influenza and mitigate the risk to Minnesota’s poultry industry.

Minnesota is ranked first in the nation in turkey production, with more than 660 turkey farms that raise about 40 million birds annually. Poultry is safe to eat, and proper handling and cooking of poultry and eggs to an internal temperature of 165?F is always advised. The Centers for Disease Control also recently announced this strain of avian influenza is a low risk to the public. No human cases of these avian influenza viruses have been detected in the United States.