Dairy farmers in the United States who have been affected by bird flu in their herds can now available of supports of up to €26,000 to help offset the costs associated with the outbreak.

In March, the first case of highly pathogenic bird flu (H5N1) was identified in a dairy herd in Texas. Thirty-six dairy herds have now tested positive for the disease across nine states.

US dairy farmers with affected herds who allow their workers to take part in a United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) workplace and farm worker study will be able to avail of up to €1,800 per affected farm per month for farmers who supply personal protective equipment (PPE) to employees and/or provide outerwear uniform laundering.

Biosecurity

Farmers will also be able to apply for funding of up to €1,400 per farm to develop biosecurity plans based on existing secure milk supply plans.

This includes recommended enhanced biosecurity for individuals who frequently move between dairy farms – milk hauliers, veterinarians, feed trucks and AI technicians.

Up to €1,800 per farmer will also be available to each affected farmer for heat treatment to dispose of milk in a bio-secure fashion.

“This will provide producers 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,” the USDA said.

Under this measure, farmers who establish a system to heat treat all waste milk before disposal will be paid up to up to €1,800 per affected premises per month.

Vet costs

Dairy farmers will also be reimbursed for veterinarian costs associated with confirmed positive H5N1 premises.

“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,” it said. Affected farmers will be able to claim up to €9,280.

The USDA will also pay for the cost of shipping influenza samples to the National Animal Health Laboratory Network labs for testing.

The USDA will pay actual shipping costs, not to exceed €46 per shipment for up to two shipments per month for each affected premises.

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Taken together, the USDA said these tools represent a value of up to €26,000 per premises to support increased biosecurity activities over the next 120 days.

The USDA also added that it is taking steps to make funding available to compensate eligible producers with positive herds who experience loss of milk production.

A total of €91m is being made available to fund these initiatives.

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, the USDA said.

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