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New USDA relief for bird flu-hit dairies

New USDA policy aids dairy farmers with up to 90% reimbursement


In response to the ongoing H5N1 bird flu epidemic affecting U.S. dairy herds, the USDA has implemented a new measure to compensate dairy farmers for milk production losses.

Starting July 1, affected farmers can apply for financial assistance through the Emergency Assistance for Livestock, Honeybees, and Farm-raised Fish Program (ELAP), receiving up to 90% of the value of lost milk production.

To qualify, farmers must demonstrate confirmed H5N1 infections in their herds with evidence from the USDA’s APHIS National Veterinary Services Laboratories (NVSL).

Compensation calculations will account for an expected downtime in milk production, including a complete halt for 21 days followed by a partial recovery phase.

The bird flu has affected 132 dairy herds in 12 states since March, with a sharp increase in cases over the past three weeks. The states most impacted include Colorado, Idaho, and Iowa, showcasing the severity of the outbreak.

Although there is currently no compensation for culled cows, USDA Secretary Tom Vilsack emphasized the government's commitment to supporting the dairy industry through enhanced biosecurity measures and subsidies for veterinary and testing costs.

The disease's impact on the broader dairy market has been minimal, with the affected herds representing only a small portion of the nearly 24,000 U.S. dairy herds.

The USDA is also advancing a pilot program to better monitor herd health and facilitate quicker responses to such outbreaks, further solidifying efforts to maintain stability in the dairy sector amid health challenges.

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