On May 10, 2015, Pennsylvania Agricultural Secretary Russell Redding addressed the Pennsylvania House Agriculture and Rural Affairs Committee and provided legislators with information regarding his department’s preparedness for addressing any possible outbreak of avian influenza in the State’s poultry industry.
Currently, twenty Western states have experienced outbreaks of avian influenza. As a result of these outbreaks, 47 million birds have died or been destroyed. Secretary Redding stated that while there have been no reported cases of avian influenza in Pennsylvania, a recent outbreak occurred in Macomb, Michigan-an area 150 miles from the Pennsylvania border.
The Secretary communicated to the law makers that for the last four months, his department, along with members of the poultry industry and academia, have developed measures to both prevent and deal with an outbreak of avian influenza. Secretary Redding called for more education of poultry producers regarding proper preventive measures. He also stressed that that the public needed to be made aware that there is no evidence that avian influenza is harmful to humans.
Secretary Redding stated that currently, the poultry farmers and bird owners bear all the risks and costs associated with an outbreak of avian influenza. Because such an outbreak could financially devastate poultry producers by causing long suspensions of operations, the Secretary called for the legislators to develop a recovery plan which could provide affected producers with some support until operations are resumed.
Written by M. Sean High - Staff Attorney
May 11, 2015