The USDA rolled out a voluntary bird flu surveillance program that allows participating farms to bypass specific animal shipment requirements if the herds test negative for three consecutive weeks. Producers must then continue regular weekly monitoring and herd testing. The USDA said once a farm can demonstrate a herd is free of bird flu, it can ship at its preferred time without testing individual animals.

The surveillance program is intended to expand the USDA’s understanding of the virus. Participating producers are required to test on-farm bulk milk tank samples at a National Animal Health Laboratory Network Facility. The USDA claimed the program may make state or regional disease-free statuses possible, easing interstate livestock and movement requirements.

The USDA also announced an investment of $824 million to fund rapid response and bird flu vaccine development. Approximately $100 million has been earmarked for personal protective equipment, animal tests and heightened biosecurity measures.

Read more on the USDA’s efforts to mitigate the bird flu in dairy herds here.