The United States has faced the largest animal health emergency in its history, an Agriculture Department administrator said Tuesday.
Highly pathogenic avian influenza (HPAI), otherwise known as bird flu, is wreaking havoc on the U.S. poultry industry, according to John Clifford, the deputy administrator of USDA’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service.
The outbreak, which started in December 2014, has affected more than 48 million birds in 15 states, with the highest toll taken on turkeys and egg-laying chickens in Minnesota and Iowa.
“All told USDA has committed over $500 million, an amount more than half of APHIS’ yearly discretionary budget, in addressing this outbreak,” Clifford said during a Senate Agriculture, Nutrition & Forestry Committee hearing on Tuesday. “We can and will request additional funds should we need to.”
Senate Agriculture Chairman Pat Roberts (R-Kan.) said the outbreak of bird flu poses no food safety risk, nor does it pose any health risks for the public.