Poultry Testing Laboratory Expands As Result of Funds Invested During Avian Flu Crisis Mocked by Ron Erhardt

The Minnesota Poultry Testing Laboratory in Willmar is set to re-open after completing an expansion funded by $8.5 million invested in response to the Avian Flu crisis that was mocked by Rep. Ron Erhardt of Edina. With this new investment, Minnesota is set to expand its avian testing capabilities and increase the states ability to respond to and diagnose issues facing the poultry industry in Minnesota. “The poultry industry is vital to Minnesota’s economy, producing over $1 billion in annual economic impact and this lab will serve them along with the rest of the agricultural industry well. That’s why it’s so concerning that as our state came together in a bi-partisan fashion to make these needed investments and protect Minnesota jobs, Ron Erhardt chose instead to mock the Avian Influenza outbreak from the house floor and fear monger at a time when they most needed our support,” said Minnesota Jobs Coalition President Kevin Magnuson. “Ron Erhardt’s penchant for making ill-timed and inappropriate comments do not serve our state or the citizens of Edina.”

VIDEO: Erhardt Joked About Bird Flu. “While many state lawmakers Tuesday took part in a cookout to demonstrate that turkey products are safe despite an avian influenza outbreak, one DFL lawmaker tried to joke about it. His western and southern Minnesota colleagues did not see the humor.” (MPR News Staff, “Lawmaker’s Bird Flu Routine Lays An Egg In Minnesota House,” Minnesota Public Radio, 5/5/15)
VIDEO: Erhardt Bizarrely Donned White Lab Coat And Held Bottle And Spray Can Labeled “Bird Flu Vaccine.” “Dressed in a white lab coat and stethoscope, Edina Rep. Ron Erhardt told the House he was concerned avian influenza may threaten humans. He also held a bottle and spray can that were labeled ‘bird flu vaccine.’ He related a story of feeling poorly over the weekend after eating turkey and speculated on whether the flu could transfer to humans, saying, ‘I’m worried that we’re not paying strict enough attention that there is a possibility of transfer.’” (MPR News Staff, “Lawmaker’s Bird Flu Routine Lays An Egg In Minnesota House,” Minnesota Public Radio, 5/5/15)
DFLers Criticized Erhardt’s Antics. “DFLers were quick to rebuke Erhardt’s antics. Throughout the last two years, Republicans repeatedly criticized Democrats for not addressing the problems facing rural Minnesota. Rep. Jeanne Poppe, DFL-Austin, said avian influenza is not a partisan issue. ‘It appears as though this is going to be a joke at some point,’ she said of Erhardt’s comments. ‘But the turkey farmers in our state are suffering a very serious crisis. It’s not something that we need to be making light of.’” (MPR News Staff, “Lawmaker’s Bird Flu Routine Lays An Egg In Minnesota House,” Minnesota Public Radio, 5/5/15)
A Letter Of Protest And Dissent Regarding Erhardt’s Bird Flu Comments Was Signed By DFL Rep. Jeanne Hoppe. (2015 House Journal Page, 4408)

Erhardt’s fowl joke was very poor move 
“Erhardt should be ashamed of his poorly attempted humor at the cost of a significant state industry, the Minnesota turkey industry.” (West Central Tribune Editorial Board “Editorial: Erhardt’s fowl joke was very poor move” West Central Tribune 5/6/15)