Source: KIMT

By Levi Ismail

OSAGE, Iowa – On Friday, Governor Terry Branstad declared a state of emergency which will activate disaster response and recovery procedures, as well as free up state money to monitor the issue.

Branstad was joined by Secretary of Agriculture Bill Northey in Des Moines for the event.

It was announced that four more farms are likely infected with the deadly bird flu outbreak in Iowa and that brings the total to 21 affected locations across 10 counties.

It’s no easy task calling a state of emergency, but desperate times call for desperate measures. It’s one of many issues Senator Joni Ernst discussed at a town hall meeting this afternoon.

Ernst organized a town hall meeting in Osage as part of her 99 county tour of the state. Among other issues, she is addressing the impact that the bird flu has had in Iowa and southern Minnesota. She says it’s a concern that has gone well beyond just the state and has gained Washington’s attention.

“It is something that continues to spread. It is a great concern right now for Iowans,” said Ernst.

As the top egg producing state in the country, Iowa relies heavily on poultry. But in recent weeks, more than 21 million chickens and turkeys have fallen victim to the avian flu across the nation.

“One in every five eggs that is consumed out there across the United States comes from Iowa, so it will impact our consumers and unfortunately it is impacting our producers right now,” said Ernst.

Among other things, the state of emergency will allow officials to oversee the cleaning and disinfecting of vehicles to limit the spread of the contagious disease.

A regulatory provision will also be suspended pertaining to hours of service for commercial vehicle drivers hauling poultry carcasses infected with or exposed to the highly pathogenic avian influenza, as well as using nearly all available state resources to remove chicken and turkey carcasses off of properties.

“We need to follow this closely. We need to get to the root of the problem, what is causing it and what can we do about it,” said Ernst.

With Wisconsin and Minnesota already issuing their own emergency declarations, Ernst says she believes aid from federal funding will not be far off.

“I have encouraged Secretary Vilsack to take a look at this and utilize whatever resources necessary to try to get this epidemic under control,” said Ernst.

We also heard from US Rep. Steve King about his reaction to the Governor’s state of emergency.

“I am glad to see that Gov. Branstad declared a state of emergency in Iowa today. We will do whatever it takes to help contain this disease and allow our producers to get back on their feet again,” King said.

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