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Gov. Tim Walz issues executive order for regulatory relief for avian influenza response

The order, issued Wednesday, Sept. 28, intends to provide "relief from certain regulations for drivers and carriers transporting HPAI emergency equipment and supplies to help mitigate the impacts and limit the spread of HPAI in Minnesota." Walz previously issued similar executive orders in March and April.

Bird flu
Avian influenza cases have again cropped up in Minnesota.
File photo
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ST. PAUL — Minnesota Gov. Tim Walz has signed an emergency order addressing relief for regulations for those responding to cases of highly pathogenic avian influenza.

The order, issued Wednesday, Sept. 28, intends to provide "relief from certain regulations for drivers and carriers transporting HPAI emergency equipment and supplies to help mitigate the impacts and limit the spread of HPAI in Minnesota." Walz previously issued similar executive orders in March and April.

"Poultry growers, industry associations, and animal health experts have requested immediate help to support the safe and efficient movement of commodities used in emergency response efforts. Temporary relief is needed to help mitigate the impacts and limit the spread of HPAI in Minnesota. Strict enforcement of certain hours of service requirements would prevent or hinder the efficient transportation of these important commodities," Walz's order said.

HPAI is a highly contagious disease for poultry, which can spread quickly among flocks and can spread through contact with wild birds. Infected flocks must be depopulated to stop the disease from spreading to more animals.

Cases of HPAI in backyard and commercial flocks lulled over the summer months, which is typical of the disease — which is deadly to birds but does not pose a food safety risk. However, it has continued to circulate in wild bird populations, which puts domestic flocks at risk as birds begin to migrate, Walz's order said.

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"On Aug. 30, 2022, only three months since the last known outbreak, state animal health officials confirmed a new outbreak of HPAI at a commercial turkey farm in Meeker County," the order said. "Following that diagnosis, outbreaks have been confirmed at almost 20 additional sites, impacting over 500,000 birds."

According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture , through Sept. 27, there have been 72 affected commercial flocks, 26 affected backyard flocks, and a total of 3,661,476 birds in Minnesota affected in the outbreak of HPAI that began in the spring. Minnesota is the nation's No. 1 producer of turkeys.

Iowa, to the south, has been the hardest hit state, with more than 13 million birds impacted. However, Iowa has not had a new case reported since May. Meanwhile, North Dakota, South Dakota, Montana, Nebraska and Wisconsin all have reported new cases in September.

Jenny Schlecht is the director of ag content for Agweek and serves as editor of Agweek, Sugarbeet Grower and BeanGrower. She lives on a farm and ranch near Medina, North Dakota, with her husband and two daughters. You can reach her at jschlecht@agweek.com or 701-595-0425.
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