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Minnesota Legislature sends $1 million emergency bird flu funding to governor's desk

To date, the avian influenza has been detected in 21 Minnesota flocks, affecting 1 million birds.

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The House floor is seen during the first day of the 2019 session of the Minnesota Legislature at the State Capitol in St. Paul on Tuesday, Jan. 8, 2019.
John Autey / St. Paul Pioneer Press
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ST. PAUL — Both chambers of the Minnesota Legislature on Thursday, April 7, voted to send out $1 million to the Department of Agriculture to help combat the highly pathogenic avian influenza.

Sen. Torrey Westrom, R-Elbow Lake, advanced an amendment to another bill that would approve the emergency funding to help detect and contain the illness that has already been found in 21 flocks in Minnesota, impacting more than 1 million birds.

The Senate unanimously approved the bill Thursday and all but one lawmaker in the House of Representatives voted in favor. Rep. Erik Mortensen, R-Shakopee, was the lone legislator to oppose the funding. The bill moves now to Gov. Tim Walz for his signature.

“Minnesota farmers needed this relief yesterday, and we cannot afford to wait any longer,” Westrom said. 

He also noted that additional agriculture funding and emergency relief bills are in the works at the Legislature and could offer additional aid.

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Farm organizations on Thursday said the emergency funds from the state could help organizations big and small that have been affected by the avian flu.

“The needs for both commercial and backyard flocks to respond quickly to HPAI is important, and the funding provided today gives those impacted the resources they need," said Minnesota Farm Bureau President Dan Glessing.

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Follow Dana Ferguson on Twitter  @bydanaferguson , call 651-290-0707 or email  dferguson@forumcomm.com.

Dana Ferguson is a Minnesota Capitol Correspondent for Forum News Service. Ferguson has covered state government and political stories since she joined the news service in 2018, reporting on the state's response to the COVID-19 pandemic, the divided Statehouse and the 2020 election.
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