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Rounds, Thune Urge Ag Secretary, U.S. Trade Representative to Begin Trade Agreement Talks to Allow for Bird Flu Vaccine

WASHINGTON – U.S. Senators Mike Rounds (R-S.D.) and John Thune (R-S.D.) sent a letter to Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack and U.S. Trade Representative Katherine Tai asking them to begin discussions on updating trade agreements to allow for potential usage of a highly pathogenic avian influenza (HPAI) vaccine.

The United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) is currently testing vaccines to prevent against HPAI. The avian influenza outbreak has impacted more than 5.3 million birds in South Dakota and has cost the federal government nearly $1 billion. U.S. officials will have to negotiate with major trade partners before allowing producers to use any HPAI vaccine that may be approved.

“It is our understanding that USDA’s Agricultural Research Service (ARS) is currently in the process of testing new vaccines to address the latest HPAI strain,” the senators wrote. “We are hopeful about the benefits of the vaccines being developed, but we remain concerned that the important work of updating the trade agreements will not keep up with the scientific advancements.  As HPAI vaccine research continues, we respectfully request animal health and trade leaders give special consideration to impacted producers.”

Read the full letter HERE or below.

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