What’s The Possibility Of HPAI Dairy Compensation?

Health officials have found Highly Pathogenic Avian Influenza — H5N1 — in more than 30 cattle herds across nine states. A federal order currently requires dairy cows to test negative for the virus before crossing state lines.

USDA’s National Veterinary Services Laboratories has confirmed the presence of HPAI (H5N1) in dairy herds in Colorado, Idaho, Kansas, Michigan, New Mexico, North Carolina, Ohio, South Dakota, and Texas. See the full list of detections: https://www.aphis.usda.gov/livestock-poultry-disease/avian/avian-influenza/hpai-detections/livestock

The H5N1 virus in dairy cattle is causing decreased milk production, and reduced appetite, among other symptoms.

U.S. Department of Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack says the amount of milk lost due to the virus is minimal. He adds that makes it hard to justify compensation through an indemnity program.

Vilsack says the agency is interested in possible long-term effects of HPAI in milk production.

“Is there a residual impact and effect that is longstanding on the dairy cow?” he questions. “In other words: You recover from the virus, but you don’t produce as much as you did before… that’s an issue. We would be interested in knowing that.”

He says he needs farmer participation to glean that kind of information, which can be a challenge. He says hard evidence of further lost production could help justify compensation.

“Anecdotally, there have been some indications that there are some losses, but we’re going to need help from farmers to get the information that would then be able to justify… that we’re going to spend some significant resources to be able to help these folks out.”

In the meantime, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration and USDA continue to emphasize that the commercial milk supply is safe. Regulations require the diversion of milk from sick cows and the pasteurization process. Pasteurization has continuously proven to inactivate bacteria and viruses in milk.

Producers should continue to enhance their biosecurity efforts and monitor and control disease in their herds and flocks. The state Department of Agriculture, Trade and Consumer Protection encourages producers who notice unusual clinical signs in their cattle to work with their herd veterinarian.