Ag News

Federal agencies announce assistance to help dairies fight H5N1

Posted on May 16, 2024 at 1:30 AM

On May 10, the USDA and U.S. Department of Health & Human Services (HHS) announced financial compensation and other steps it is taking through its departments and through the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) and Food & Drug Administration (FDA) to reduce the spread of H5N1 among dairy cattle and protect the health and safety of the U.S. food supply.

The joint announcement issued by the two agencies said USDA will offer assistance for dairy producers with H5N1-affected farms to improve on-site biosecurity to reduce the spread. In addition, USDA is taking steps to offer financial tools for lost milk production in herds affected by H5N1. USDA is expanding reimbursement originally offered to cover costs of testing dairy cattle before they are moved across state lines as required by the federal order that went into effect April 29.

Since March 25, USDA has confirmed that dairy cattle in nine states - Texas, Kansas, Michigan, Idaho, New Mexico, Ohio, North Carolina, South Dakota  and Colorado  - have tested positive for H5N1. As of May 14, the virus has not been found in a Georgia dairy herd.

Tested samples of pasteurized dairy products taken from grocery stores across the U.S. show

the U.S. commercial milk supply to be safe. Samples of ground beef have also tested negative for H5N1.

Protect against the potential for spread between humans & animals

USDA will provide financial support (up to $2,000 per affected premises per month) for dairy producers who supply personal protective equipment to employees and/or provide outerwear uniform laundering, and who facilitate the participation of their workers in USDA/CDC workplace and farmworker study.

Workers who participate in the USDA/CDC workplace and farmworker studies are eligible for financial incentives to compensate them for their time, whether the study is led by federal, state, or local public health professionals.

Support producers in biosecurity planning & implementation

 USDA will provide support (up to $1,500 per affected premises) to develop biosecurity plans based on existing secure milk supply plans. This includes recommended enhanced biosecurity for individuals that frequently move between dairy farms – milk haulers, veterinarians, feed trucks, artificial insemination technicians, etc. Additionally, USDA will provide a $100 payment to producers who buy and use an in-line sampler for their milk system.

Provide funding for heat treatment to dispose of milk in a bio secure manner

 Heat treatment performed in accordance with FDA standards is the only available method considered effective to inactivate/kill the virus in milk. If a producer establishes a system to heat treat all waste milk before disposal, USDA will pay the producer up to $2,000 per affected premises per month.

Reimburse producers for veterinarian costs associated with confirmed H5N1 premises 

Up to $10,000 will be provided to producers to cover veterinary costs incurred for treating cattle infected with H5N1 or fees for veterinarians to collect samples for testing. This can include veterinary fees and/or specific supplies needed for treatment and sample collection. Veterinary costs are eligible to be covered from the initial date of positive confirmation by a National Veterinary Services Lab for that farm, per affected premises.

Offset shipping costs for H5N1 testing at approved laboratories

 USDA will pay for the cost of shipping samples to National Animal Health Laboratory Network (NAHLN) for testing. USDA will pay actual shipping costs, not to exceed $50 per shipment for up to 2 shipments per month for each affected premises. Testing at NAHLN laboratories for samples associated with this event (e.g., pre-movement, testing of sick/suspect animals, samples from concerned producers) is already being conducted at no cost to the producer.

Together, these financial tools represent a value of up to $28,000 per premises to support increased biosecurity activities over the next 120 days.

Compensate producers for loss of milk production 

USDA is taking steps to make funding available from the Emergency Assistance for Livestock, Honey Bees, and Farm-raised Fish Program (ELAP) to compensate eligible producers with H5N1- positive herds who have loss of milk production. USDA  reports that to date, dairy cows that have been infected with H5N1 generally recover well, and there has been little mortality associated with the disease. The virus does, however, dramatically reduce milk production (10-30lb/cow daily), causing economic losses for producers. USDA can support farmers with the ELAP program to offset some of these losses. This compensation program is distinct from the strategy to contain the spread of H5N1.

Work with states to limit movement of lactating cattle 

Additionally, USDA will work with and support the actions of states with affected herds as they consider movement restrictions within their borders to further limit the spread of H5N1 between herds to reduce further spread of this virus.

USDA will make $98 million in existing funds available to its Animal & Plant Health Inspection Service to fund these initiatives. If needed, USDA has the authority, with Congressional notification, to make additional funds available.

Eligibility, enrollment & other information dairy producers need to know

Dairy producers with premises that have been confirmed positive for HPAI are eligible for USDA support to conduct activities that best fit their operations. Support for these interventions
is available for a period of up to 120 days from the date of confirmation of H5N1 in cattle on the affected premises. Interested producers will contact the Area Veterinarian in Charge to enroll at  .

Producers will work with USDA personnel to develop a plan for their farms regarding detailing planned testing and movement, biosecurity practices and other planned activities. Following the development of this plan, the producer will draft a Detailed Financial Plan (DFP) to include all the planned activities, purchases and services associated with the actions they select (from the program options mentioned above) that will be eligible for USDA financial support.

To assure fiscal accountability with federal funds, USDA personnel will conduct a review every 30 days to monitor the progress in implementing the components of the action(s) which the producer chooses to implement (e.g., is PPE being used appropriately, is the enhanced biosecurity plan being implemented).

The dairy producer will be provided with information to sign up for a method to receive payment.

HHS financial programs

In the joint statement U.S. Department of Health & Human Services (HHS) announced May 10 with the USDA, HHS said it will fund programs through CDC and FDA totaling $101 million to mitigate the risk of H5N1 to continue its work to test, prevent, and treat H5N1.

Although the CDC’s assessment of the risk of avian influenza infection for the general public continues to remain low at this time, these investments reflect HHS’s commitment to prioritizing the health and safety of the American public.   

HHS said its primary responsibility is to protect public health and the safety of the food supply, which is why it will continue to approach the outbreak with urgency.

CDC continues to monitor the H5N1 virus to detect any changes that may increase risk to people, and update avian flu guidance for workers to ensure people who work with dairy cows and those who work in slaughterhouses have the guides and information they need in both English and Spanish.

CDC is in ongoing discussions with multiple states about field investigations and incentives for workers who participate in these on-site studies. CDC has asked health departments to distribute existing PPE stocks to farm workers, prioritizing those who work with infected cows.

FDA is coordinating with USDA to conduct H5N1 retail milk and dairy sample testing nationwide to ensure the safety of the commercial pasteurized milk supply.

To read about all of the programs HHS is funding and conducting through CDC, FDA and its other agencies, visit .

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