Bird flu continues march across Minnesota; senators ask Congress for help

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As the number of Minnesota turkey farms impacted by the bird flu skyrockets, a group of Washington lawmakers – including Minnesota's senators, Amy Klobuchar and Al Franken – are lobbying Congress for "crucial funding" aimed at addressing the epidemic.

According to a Monday press release, a bipartisan team of 13 senators – led by Klobuchar and Iowa Sen. Chuck Grassley – wants to ensure that a government program aimed at stopping the virus has all the support it needs.

They're asking the panel to provide "robust funding" for the Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS), which is part of the U.S. Department of Agriculture. The APHIS avian health program has a yearly budget of about $52 million.

Their letter to the Senate Appropriations Committee also calls for financial reimbursement for farmers whose poultry has been lost to the aggressive H5N2 virus.

Meanwhile, the number of Minnesota turkey farms affected by the epidemic now stands at 80, the Minnesota Board of Animal Health said Monday. The number of birds affected is more than 5.3 million.

Eight of those are "presumptive positive" outbreaks, the agency says.

This, as the Associated Press reported the flu was detected at Nicollet County farm of more than a million chickens – the largest poultry operation struck by the illness yet.

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