US senators send letter criticising USDA's bird flu plan
In a letter sent to the US Agriculture Secretary, Mike Johanns, a group of
six senators criticised the US Agriculture Department's (USDA) handling of avian
The senators referred to an audit completed by the USDA's Office of the Inspector
General, which determined that the USDA did not have a comprehensive bird flu response plan.
The senators said they were
concerned about US preparedness and they do not believe the USDA is doing
enough, but rather leaving too much for individual states, many of which do not
have the resources needed.
"APHIS continues to push the responsibility for finding and
responding to a possible outbreak of avian influenza onto states," the senators said in their
letter to Johanns.
The letter also expressed the senators concern
that "the agency has waited until this year to begin to develop a comprehensive
surveillance plan for avian influenza, which will not be complete until
The letter, dated July 21, was signed by Sens. Tom Harkin, D-Iowa, Harry Reid, D-Nev., Barack Obama, D-Ill., Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa, Chuck Schummer, D-N.Y., and Hillary Rodham Clinton,
The USDA was quick to defend its practices. Spokesman Ed Loyd
told the Associated Press, "This is not something that's just theoretical to the
department. We have experience in dealing with previous high-path
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