Klobuchar, Smith Announce USDA Funding to Combat Chronic Wasting Disease in Minnesota

WASHINGTON – U.S. Senators Amy Klobuchar (D-MN) and Tina Smith (D-MN) announced that the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) is providing $546,535 in funding to help Minnesota combat Chronic Wasting Disease (CWD). CWD is a contagious neurological disorder that affects deer and elk, posing a serious threat to deer populations across the country.

“This funding will help ensure that we can combat Chronic Wasting Disease and maintain our state’s outdoor recreation and economy,” Klobuchar said. “CWD has become a real threat to our state’s deer and elk populations and continued efforts to bolster research into surveillance, prevention, and management practices are needed to stop this highly contagious disease, which can spread quickly among deer and elk populations.”

“Chronic Wasting Disease is a serious threat to the health of deer, elk and other animals—some of which are important food resources in communities,” said. Sen. Smith. “This funding will help the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources, the Minnesota Board of Animal Health and Grand Portage Band of Lake Superior Chippewa address and prevent spread of the disease. Looking forward, I’ll keep supporting research at the USDA, University of Minnesota and other organizations that are working towards prevention and management.”

Klobuchar, a senior member of the Senate Agriculture Committee, successfully pushed for key provisions in the 2018 Farm Bill, including a provision which made Chronic Wasting Disease a “High Priority Research Area” at the Department of Agriculture and allowed for research and extension grants for the purpose of supporting land-grant university efforts to treat, mitigate, and eliminate Chronic Wasting Disease. 

In November 2018, Klobuchar led a letter with Senator Roger Wicker (R-MS) to Secretary of Agriculture, Sonny Perdue and former Secretary of the Interior, Ryan Zinke, urging the Department of Agriculture and Department of the Interior to conduct an extensive examination of chronic wasting disease (CWD).

Senator Tina Smith is pushing a coordinated “One Health” approach—the idea that human and animal health are linked, and that they should be studied together—to prevent and respond to disease outbreaks. Her bipartisan Advancing Emergency Preparedness Through One Health Act would improve public health preparedness by ensuring federal agencies adopt the approach to improve coordination among those studying animal, human and environmental health. 

Chronic Wasting Disease (CWD) is a neurological disease that affects deer, elk, reindeer, and moose. It has been found in some areas of North America including Canada and the United States. The symptoms can take up to a year to develop in an infected animal and typically are associated with drastic weight loss (wasting), stumbling, listlessness, and other neurological symptoms. It usually ends in death within two years of infection. CWD is contagious and fatal to animals.