WASHINGTON – The US Department of Agriculture (USDA) began July 1 accepting applications from dairy producers in need of financial assistance due to dairy cows getting infected with highly pathogenic avian influenza (HPAI), also known as H5N1. 

USDA said its Farm Service Agency (FSA) expanded the Emergency Assistance for Livestock, Honeybees and Farm-raised Fish Program (ELAP) through the rule-making process to assist with “a portion of financial losses resulting from reduced milk production when cattle are removed from commercial milking in dairy herds having a confirmed positive H5N1 test.”

A confirmed positive test result through USDA’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service National Veterinary Services Laboratories is required for a dairy producer to receive assistance.

As of July 2, USDA had confirmed cases in dairy herds in 12 states: Ohio, Idaho, Iowa, Wyoming, South Dakota, Minnesota, Michigan, North Carolina, Colorado, Kansas, New Mexico and Texas. USDA’s data listed 137 confirmed cases in the outbreak, with 56 coming in the previous 30 days.

“USDA remains committed to working with producers, state veterinarians, animal health professionals and our federal partners as we continue to detect the presence of H5N1 in dairy herds and take additional measures to contain the spread of the disease,” Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack said. “When something unexpected, like H5N1, threatens the economic viability of the producers we serve, we are committed to finding ways, where we have the authority to do so, to revisit existing program policies and provide the financial support needed to help producers recover and sustain production.”    

In order to apply for assistance, USDA said dairy producers need to contact FSA at a local USDA Service Center.