US Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack testified that a bird flu vaccine may be "18 months or so" away.

House Committee on Agriculture Hearing on February 14, 2024

Secretary Vilsack testified during a House Committee on Agriculture hearing, "For the Purpose of Receiving Testimony from The Honorable Thomas J. Vilsack, Secretary, U.S. Department of Agriculture”, held on February 14.

Per a Reuters report, the USDA intends to discuss vaccines with trading partners. There are concerns that vaccinated U.S. poultry could be restricted from exporting to other countries. The U.S. restricted vaccinated duck imports from France in 2023.

"We are probably 18 months or so away from being able to identify a vaccine that would be effective for this particular (avian flu) that we’re dealing with now." - Vilsack

How bad is bird flu in the United States?

Per the CDC, the H5N1 bird flu has reached 47 of the 50 States, and has infected over 81 million poultry. Each flock that is found to be affected is put down, resulting in the loss of millions of birds to the disease. The product from the birds is not considered contaminated or dangerous for human consumption if it is prepared properly.

The disease can spread to wild birds, other animals, and even humans. Although only one case of human infection has been recorded in the United States so far, other countries have reported infections since 2020. However, these cases are extremely rare.


Hearing also addressed SNAP, Ag funding, and more

The Committee hearing addressed many national concerns in agriculture, including inflation, reduced labor force, supply chain issues, and much more. Vilsack emphasized a focus on small and mid-sized farms, to avoid the "get big or get out" attitude prevaling in the ag industry.

You can watch or listen to the full hearing in the video below.


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