Federal government announces funding assistance related to H5N1

Goal is to reduce spread on effected premises and provide financial assistance to producers.

May 11, 2024

6 Min Read

The US Department of Agriculture has announced assistance for producers with H5N1 affected premises to improve on-site biosecurity in order to reduce the spread. In addition, USDA is taking steps to make available financial tools for lost milk production in herds affected by H5N1.

Building on the Federal Order addressing pre-movement testing, these steps will further equip producers with tools they can use to keep their affected herds and workers healthy and reduce risk of the virus spreading to additional herds, said USDA.

USDA said it will provide financial support (up to $2,000 per affected premises per month) for producers who supply PPE to employees and/or provide outerwear uniform laundering, for producers of affected herds who facilitate the participation of their workers in USDA/Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) workplace and farmworker study.

Complementary to USDA’s new financial support for producers, workers who participate in the study are also eligible for financial incentives to compensate them for their time, regardless of whether the study is led by federal, state, or local public health professionals.

In addition, USDA will provide support (up to $1,500 per affected premises) to develop biosecurity plans based on existing secure milk supply plans. This includes recommended enhanced biosecurity for individuals that frequently move between dairy farms – milk haulers, veterinarians, feed trucks, AI technicians, etc. USDA also will provide a $100 payment to producers who purchase and use an in-line sampler for their milk system.

Funding for heat treatment to dispose of milk in a bio secure fashion is included as well. USDA said this will provide producers with a safe option for disposal of milk. Heat treatment performed in accordance with standards set by Food and Drug Administration is the only currently available method considered to effectively inactivate the virus in milk. If a producer establishes a system to heat treat all waste milk before disposal, USDA will pay the producer up to $2,000 per affected premises per month.

Producer will be reimbursed for veterinarian costs associated with confirmed positive H5N1 premises. USDA said this provides support to producers to cover veterinary costs necessarily incurred for treating cattle infected with H5N1, as well as fees for veterinarians to collect samples for testing. This can include veterinary fees and/or specific supplies needed for treatment and sample collection. Veterinary costs are eligible to be covered from the initial date of positive confirmation at NVSL for that farm, up to $10,000 per affected premises.

USDA will pay for the cost of shipping samples to the National Animal Health Laboratory Network (NAHLN) labs for testing. USDA will pay actual shipping costs, not to exceed $50 per shipment for up to two shipments per month for each affected premises. Testing at NAHLN laboratories for samples associated with this event (e.g., pre-movement, testing of sick/suspect animals, samples from concerned producers) is already being conducted at no-cost to the producer.

Taken together, these tools represent a value of up to $28,000 per premises to support increased biosecurity activities over the next 120 days, said USDA.

USDA is further taking steps to make funding available from the Emergency Assistance for Livestock, Honey Bees, and Farm-raised Fish Program (ELAP) to compensate eligible producers with positive herds who experience loss of milk production. While dairy cows that have been infected with H5N1 generally recover well, and there is little mortality associated with the disease, it does dramatically limit milk production, causing economic losses for producers with affected premises. USDA can support farmers with the ELAP program to offset some of these losses. This compensation program is distinct from the strategy to contain the spread.

Additionally, USDA said it will work with and support the actions of states with affected herds as they consider movement restrictions within their borders to further limit the spread of H5N1 between herds to reduce further spread of this virus.

USDA will make $98 million in existing funds available to APHIS to fund these initiatives. If needed, USDA has the authority, with Congressional notification, to make additional funds available.

According to USDA, these additional measures build on a suite of actions USDA has taken to date. This includes implementation of the Federal Order to limit spread of the disease, coordinating with federal partners to share expertise and lab capacity, doubling down on our work with producers to practice good biosecurity measures, continuing to conduct investigations to determine how the virus is spread within and between farms, and analyzing and sharing sequences alongside validated epidemiological information.

The U.S. government is addressing this situation with urgency and through a whole-of- government approach. USDA is working closely with federal partners at the Food and Drug Administration, which has the primary responsibility for the safety of milk and dairy products, by assisting with conducting lab testing at USDA labs. USDA is also working closely with federal partners at CDC, which has the primary responsibility for public health, by encouraging producer and industry cooperation with public health officials to get vital information necessary to assess the level of risk to human health.

Additional details on how producers can access and apply for the financial tools is forthcoming.

HHS, CDC, FDA funding

USDA’s Health and Human Services (HHS) also has announced new funding investments through CDC and FDA totaling $101 million to mitigate the risk of H5N1 and continue its work to test, prevent, and treat H5N1. Although the CDC’s assessment of the risk of avian influenza infection for the general public continues to remain low at this time, these investments are said to reflect the department’s commitment to prioritizing the health and safety of the American public.

Public and animal health experts and agencies have been preparing for avian influenza outbreak for 20 years. HHS said its primary responsibility is to protect public health and the safety of the food supply

CDC announced it has identified an additional $93 million to support its current response efforts for avian influenza. Building on bipartisan investments in public health, this funding will allow CDC to capitalize on the influenza foundation that has been laid over the last two decades, specifically where CDC has worked domestically and globally to prevent, detect, and respond to avian influenza.

These investments will allow CDC to bolster testing and laboratory capacity, surveillance, genomic sequencing, support jurisdictions and partner efforts to reach high risk populations and initiate a new wastewater surveillance pilot.

Additionally, FDA has announced that an additional $8 million is being made available to support its ongoing response activities to ensure the safety of the commercial milk supply. This funding will support the agency’s ability to validate pasteurization criteria, conduct surveillance at different points in the milk production system, bolster laboratory capacity and provide needed resources to train staff on biosecurity procedures. Additionally, these funds will help support H5N1 activities in partnership with state co-regulatory partners, who administer state programs as part of the federal/state milk safety system. It may also allow the FDA to partner with universities on critical research questions.

Additional Information:

To learn more about USDA’s response to H5N1 in dairy cattle, visit www.aphis.usda.gov/livestock-poultry-disease/avian/avian-influenza/hpai-detections/livestock.

To learn more about CDC’s response to H5N1, visit www.cdc.gov/flu/avianflu/mammals.htm.

To learn more about FDA’s response to H5N1, visit www.fda.gov/food/alerts-advisories-safety-information/updates-highly-pathogenic-avian-influenza-hpai

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