Walz discusses bird flu outbreak during roundtable in Willmar

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Tuesday, Gov. Tim Walz participated in a roundtable discussion on the ongoing bird flu outbreak.

While the H5N1 Highly Pathogenic Avian Influenza (HPAI) outbreak hasn’t created any food safety concerns for consumers, it poses a significant risk to the state’s poultry industry.

After meeting with local animal health officials in Willmar, lawmakers were somewhat optimistic this year’s bird flu outbreak won’t be as bad as in 2016.

“We remain hopeful,” said Gov. Tim Walz, adding, “this fight is on.”

As of Tuesday, the Minnesota Board of Animal Health (BAH) says 1.93 million birds across 17 counties in the state have confirmed H5N1 infections. The first cases were detected in Indiana on Feb. 8, with the first cases in Minnesota confirmed on March 25.

Sen. Amy Klobuchar noted that the nearly 2 million birds lost statewide is 7 million short of the 9 million birds lost by Minnesota poultry farmers during the 2016 outbreak.

State officials say Minnesota is better positioned to respond to the outbreak, which is now in 17 counties at 40 different sites. The legislature also approved $1 million in funding to combat the outbreak.

Walz, U.S. Sens. Amy Klobuchar and Tina Smith, BAH Executive Director Beth Thompson, and Minnesota Department of Agriculture Commissioner Thom Petersen spoke about the outbreak and efforts to control the virus Tuesday afternoon.

You can watch the full news conference in the video player below.

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