29 March 2023- Today, Governor Josh Shapiro met with Lancaster County farmers at Silver Valley Farm to discuss his Administration’s coordinated response to the Hi-Path Avian Influenza crisis and outline elements of his commonsense budget proposal that would help support and empower Pennsylvania farmers. Governor Shapiro, the Pennsylvania Department of Agriculture, and Senator Scott Martin – the chairman of the Senate Appropriations Committee – met with local farmers and residents to hear about the challenges they face as a result of the crisis and highlight the Commonwealth’s proactive response and recovery efforts to help Pennsylvania’s $7.1 billion poultry industry.
Since April 2022 when Hi-Path Avian Influenza first hit Pennsylvania, 31 commercial flocks and 36 backyard flocks have been affected, resulting in a loss of 4,650,840 birds statewide. In the last 30 days, 4 commercial flocks, 20 backyard flocks, and 133,550 birds have been lost in Pennsylvania.
“Hi-Path Avian Influenza is one of the most significant animal public health emergencies in American history – and it’s hitting us hard here in Pennsylvania,” said Governor Josh Shapiro. “I came here to Silver Valley Farm this morning to meet with some of our farmers and hear their concerns – because I know they’re worried, and I want them to know that my Administration is standing with them and working every single day to protect their flocks. Pennsylvania’s poultry industry contributes over $7 billion to our economy and supports over 26,000 jobs, and we are committed to working together in a bipartisan manner to support our farmers and ensure they have the resources they need.”
“This could have a severe ripple effect across our economy. But the good news is this: between the industry communications, the absolute responsiveness of the Administration and the Governor’s team, the citizens of not only this county but the Commonwealth and all those who are watching what’s happening here in Pennsylvania, they can have confidence that we’re not only just committed to dealing with this in the here and now, but how best to prepare as we move forward to ensure that that responsiveness and learning from how we can do things better,” said State Senator Scott Martin. “That starts by taking a real problem and solution approach. I think you’re seeing that happen right now. And Governor, I can’t say thank you enough for being here and standing with the agricultural community and these families in this industry and I have extreme confidence that all working together that we’re going to get this done.”
“Thank you, Governor Shapiro, for recognizing the seriousness of avian flu, and therefore sustaining the commitments made in the budget. We aren’t resting. Our team is still doing surveillance out in the field, and we want our farmers and producers to know that we are here to help. We’re here to support,” said Deputy Secretary for Animal Health and Food Safety Lisa Graybeal. “It should be everyone’s goal to work towards stopping the spread of this disease. We’re all in this together, and together, I think we’ll get through this.”
Since taking office in January, the Shapiro Administration has been focused supporting Pennsylvania farmers by deploying a team of over 170 experts to help conduct testing and improve security measures on farms across the Commonwealth. A response team made up of hundreds of veterinarians and specialists from the PA Department of Agriculture, U.S. Department of Agriculture, Penn State Extension, and PennAg Industries has worked side by side with poultry businesses, eliminating the virus on the 67 farms in 15 PA counties where it has been confirmed.
The Pennsylvania Animal Diagnostic Lab System has run more than 421,000 tests to confirm or rule out the virus in its three state-supported labs, and 691 trained and certified poultry technicians have taken samples on hundreds of farms beyond those where the virus was confirmed.
Governor Shapiro recognizes that there is a lot we still need to do, and that’s why his proposed budget will support ongoing response and recovery efforts through:
- $25 million for the recovery fund helping fill the gap between federal indemnity funds and the real losses poultry businesses are facing.
- $6 million to support the Pennsylvania Animal Diagnostic Lab System and reimburse poultry businesses for supplies for the 549 privately employed, trained technicians taking samples to rule out or confirm suspected infections.
- $1 million to support the PA Center for Poultry Excellence at PennAg Industries that puts training, equipment, and man and woman power behind this response.
- $58.9 million for the Agricultural College Land Scrip Fund – a $1.2 million increase to the fund that supports veterinary research at Penn State and the work of Penn State Extension. PSU Extension provides training, expertise, and direct, hands-on support in the field to help ensure poultry producers in all types of operations understand biosecurity and how to effectively protect their flocks.
- Over $34 million for the University of Pennsylvania’s Veterinary Activities and Center for Infectious Disease to help keep Pennsylvania at the forefront of disease detection, prevention, and response.
- Over $2 million for agriculture research, including animal health research to keep Pennsylvania on the cutting edge of virus control and source-tracing for the avian flu challenge, and for the many other challenges Pennsylvania agriculture faces every day of every year.
Learn more about avian influenza and Pennsylvania’s recovery and response at agriculture.pa.gov/avianinfluenza.