US Farm Agency To Pay Farmers For Milk Loss Due To Bird Flu

By Reuters
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US Farm Agency To Pay Farmers For Milk Loss Due To Bird Flu

The US Department of Agriculture will soon begin compensating dairy farmers for the loss of milk supply due to bird flu-infected cows, the agency said.

Bird flu has infected 132 dairy herds in 12 states since March. Farmers with infected cows can suffer financial losses from reduced milk production and the cost of veterinary care.

Though the overall US milk market has not been negatively affected by the spread of the virus, "to the individual producer, it's difficult and devastating," agriculture secretary Tom Vilsack told reporters on a call.

The funding will compensate farmers with sick cows for 90% of lost milk production per cow, the agency said. Applications for the funding will open on 1 July.

The USDA is working with states to research how the virus spreads among cows and is also in talks with two dozen companies over production of a bovine vaccine for bird flu.


Spread of the virus among cattle heightens the risk of infection in humans, though the risk to the public from the virus is low, federal officials have said. Three dairy farm workers have contracted avian flu since March, and all recovered after experiencing mild symptoms.

Testing Of Dairy Products

The US Food and Drug Administration has begun testing more dairy products for evidence of the bird flu virus as outbreaks spread among dairy herds across the country.

The risk to the general public from bird flu remains low, federal officials have said, though it is higher for workers on dairy farms, who should wear personal protective equipment to reduce the risk of infection.

The focus of additional testing, which will sample 155 products, is to ensure that pasteurisation inactivates the virus, said Don Prater, acting director of the FDA's Center for Food Safety and Applied Nutrition, on a call with reporters.


Prior FDA testing of 297 retail dairy samples came back negative for evidence of the virus.

The agency continues to strongly advise against consumption of raw milk products, Prater said.

No infected dairy cow herds are known to be contributing to the raw milk supply, said Eric Deeble, USDA's acting senior adviser for its bird flu response.

Read More: Bird Flu Vaccines For Laying Hens Prove Effective In Practice, Dutch Government Says

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