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Biological threats are lurking in the backyards of bird-loving Americans, and the U.S. Department of Agriculture, or USDA, plans to spend tens of thousands of dollars on a film campaign in a variety of languages to educate citizens about the threat.

The USDA intends to raise awareness through multilingual information-campaigns targeting non-English speakers and PBS listeners.

Media outreach in languages as diverse as Spanish, Vietnamese, Traditional Chinese, Tagalog and even English already have been launched, while the USDA also has leveraged Filipino, Hmong, Native American and Amish publications to disseminate messages about infectious poultry diseases.

The Biosecurity for Birds program seeks to educate backyard bird-enthusiasts, especially among ethnic minorities, on how to prevent the spread of diseases such as avian influenza, or AI, and exotic Newcastle disease, or END.

“Ethnic communities are among the most important and most difficult audiences to reach regarding AI and END,” the program website says.

“Language and cultural differences can make it challenging to educate ethnic audiences and build the trust necessary to report concerns about AI and END to the proper authorities,” it states.

PBS listeners are the newest target audience for USDA’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service, or APHIS.

According to procurement documents WND located via database research, USDA will spend about $30,000 to produce a 4-6 minute film to be aired 500 times through PBS television stations.

It awarded a no-bid, sole-source contract to Trivue Entertainment to script, shoot, edit and produce the “educational short.”

USDA justified the noncompetitive contract because Trivue, as production company for the “Spotlight On” series, “is the only company that produces these segments for PBS.”

USDA contracting officer Nathan Johnson agreed that it was necessary to grant the award solely to Trivue so the government could “reach a specific target audience,” according to a justification for other than full and open competition document.

USDA’s APHIS launched the Biosecurity for Birds initiative in 2004 following the 2002-2003 outbreak of END across California and other Western states.

It continued the outreach to prevent AI, END and other infectious poultry diseases as well as educate backyard poultry owners and household bird enthusiasts about “what to do in the event a disease outbreak is suspected.”

In addition to creating TV, radio, print and online productions, USDA also put together a Spanish-language package that was provided to large Spanish-speaking Catholic congregations.

“Spanish-language ‘tracts’ that fit into tract-holders in churches, as well as various brochures and other outreach materials” were provided along with videos about AI and END.

The program’s outreach efforts have extended to Twitter, YouTube, state fairs and major retailers including Walmart, which has carried Biosecurity for Birds feed sacks.

The USDA has even taken its biosecurity media program to Indonesia.

In 2009, it awarded a $50,000 contract to PT Pelangi Tirtabayu Productions of Jakarta to create a series of biosecurity training videos – as well as accompanying viewer brochures and posters – in both Bahasa Indonesian and English.

USDA made the videos available “to the Indonesian government, poultry industry and all organizations working with Avian Influenza in Indonesia” as well as other Association of Southeast Asian Nations members.

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