Jessica Mathews /

Local Congresswoman Elissa Slotkin recently welcomed the Secretary of Agriculture to Williamston, where nearly 100 members of Michigan’s agriculture community came together to hear about various agriculture issues facing the state.

Williamston was heavily affected heavily by the major storms and tornadoes that swept through the state last August and Slotkin said it’s great to see how far the community has come thanks to the resilience of the farmers in the area and the dedicated work of emergency management workers.

Slotkin said the visit from Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack was perfect timing as farmers, researchers, and agriculture leaders are currently working to address HPAI, or avian flu, which has shown up in poultry flocks and dairy farms across the state.

Slotkin said people at Michigan State University’s College of Veterinary Medicine and its Veterinary Diagnostic Laboratory – the only one in Michigan that can test for HPAI – are working overtime to help test and track cases.

While the threat of HPAI to the public is very low because spread to humans is very rare, Slotkin stressed it’s still important to top the spread of avian flu, and producers must remain vigilant and contact a veterinarian if they have any health concerns with their herds or flocks.

Other topics covered included supply chains. Slotkin said everyone learned how important they are during COVID when confronted with shortages of critical goods, which is why as part of Secretary Vilsack’s visit she focused on the need to secure agriculture supply chains. Slotkin said it’s vital to maintain the security of the food supply and the “ability to feed ourselves by ourselves”.

As the only Michigan Representative on the House Agriculture Committee, Slotkin said she’ll be looking at those issues and more as she and colleagues draft the Farm Bill – a piece of legislation Congress passes every five years that sets national agriculture policy.

More information about HPAI is available in the provided link. The page is updated regularly by the Department of Agriculture with new detections and up-to-date guidance.