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Ranking Member Stabenow Opening Statement at Hearing on Avian Influenza

WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Senator Debbie Stabenow, Ranking Member of the U.S. Senate Committee on Agriculture, Nutrition and Forestry, released the following opening statement – as prepared for delivery – at today’s hearing on avian influenza.  

Stabenow’s statement, as prepared for delivery, follows.

Thank you Mr. Chairman for convening this important and timely hearing.


Also, thank you to our witnesses for testifying today. I look forward to hearing your perspectives on this issue.


We meet today because American poultry and egg producers are experiencing an unprecedented animal health crisis.


Since December 2014, avian flu has affected more than 48 million birds in 15 states – causing economic hardship for producers, driving up the cost of food for consumers, and threatening international trade.


As a sign of the difficulties producers are facing, this year is the first year in more than a decade that the United States will import eggs from European markets to help make up the shortage from the millions of birds lost to the outbreak.


Members of this Committee know these facts especially well. Senators Grassley, Ernst, and Klobuchar’s home States of Iowa and Minnesota have experienced the worst of this crisis and my thoughts are with the producers in your states. 


Addressing avian influenza and the variety of challenges it presents requires all stakeholders – both public and private – to work together.


Since the start of this outbreak, the U.S. Department of Agriculture, alongside state governments, have moved swiftly to help producers and I applaud them for their efforts.


That work, and continuing a close collaboration with industry, is essential to moving forward in a way that maximizes the effectiveness of relief efforts, while helping put producers on the path to recovery.


That teamwork also sends a strong signal to customers at home and abroad that America's poultry sector remains open and eager for business.


I look forward to working with you – Chairman Roberts – and members of this Committee in a bipartisan way on this issue.


Thank you.