Source: KIOW

By AJ Taylor

Senator Joni Ernst says she’s “deeply disappointed” President Obama has rejected the governor’s request for a federal disaster declaration for the bird flu outbreak in Iowa.

Governor Branstad asked the president to declare a “major” federal disaster in the four counties that suffered the greatest losses from the outbreak. Federal officials say the damage from the bird flu outbreak is not severe enough to warrant additional federal assistance. Ernst says she’s committed to helping Iowa rebound from the outbreak, but she is not optimistic congress will pass bills that would boost federal payments to cover bird flu expenses.

Ernst faults the U.S. Department of Agriculture for a “slow response” to the epidemic when it started.

Senator Grassley says it’s clear the “catastrophic” outbreak caused “significant damage” to Iowa’s economy. Grassley says he, too, is “very disappointed” the disaster declaration wasn’t granted. Branstad estimates about 15-hundred workers in Buena Vista, Sioux, Webster and Wright Counties are losing their jobs and he had asked for an extension of federal unemployment benefits, crisis counseling and legal services for those workers.

# # #