Northey Seeks More $ To Prepare For Animal Disease Outbreaks

chickensNorthwest Iowa — The state’s poultry industry and Iowa’s Secretary of Agriculture are asking legislators to set aside more money to prepare for the worst — like another outbreak of the bird flu that decimated poultry farms here in northwest Iowa, and across the state last year.

Secretary Bill Northey says he needs an extra half million dollars to get more equipment and hire new staff.

The 2015 bird flu outbreak was the largest animal health disease in U.S. history and resulted in the deaths of 31-and-a-half-million chickens and turkeys in Iowa. Greta Irwin of the Iowa Turkey Federation says the magnitude of last year’s outbreak caught state officials off-guard.

Irwin says last year’s bird flu outbreak in Iowa was made worse by miscommunication and untrained government personnel. Irwin and Northey made their pitch to a House Committee earlier this week. Governor Terry Branstad did not include more money for the animal health initiative in the budget outline he submitted to lawmakers last week.

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