Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack discussed future avian influenza preparations for the fall season at the Avian Influenza Outbreak…Lessons Learned Conference in Des Moines this week. The secretary’s speech focused on the incident command structure, vaccination and indemnification process, and better communications in collaboration with the poultry industry.
“I suspect and anticipate that we will learn from this particular conference a number of ways in which we can work more collaboratively together to ensure that we are doing everything we possibly can to prevent this from occurring and to mitigate its expansion,” said Vilsack. “One of the unfortunate circumstances of a tragedy like this is that it does spur creativity and innovation, so we are open to suggestions and we will be working with the industry to try to figure out what is indeed the quickest, most efficient and most humane way of dealing with this, should it reemerge.”
Vilsack also said during his address to the stakeholders meeting that discussions on the next farm bill should include a disaster assistance program for poultry producers.
“I would hope that one of the long term lessons from all of this is that we can convince our friends in Congress to understand that it isn’t just about dollars and cents as was the case in this last Farm Bill,” he said. “The reason why a disaster program wasn’t included was because it didn’t pan out in terms of budget. We really do need to take a look at a disaster program. Because at the end of the day, it’s going to be ultimately less expensive.”
The two-day conference this week included stakeholders such as th National Chicken Council, National Turkey Federation, United Egg Producers, and U.S. Poultry & Egg Association, as well as elected officials in impacted states such as Iowa Governor Terry Branstad.