Livestock groups call for animal disease prevention plan in next farm bill

Turkey grower testifies at weekend farm bill hearing on importance of forward-looking disease prevention program.

A total of 65 major animal agriculture groups, animal science organizations and veterinarians have united behind a new Animal Disease & Disaster Prevention Program, urging Congress to include this program in the 2018 farm bill.

This broad coalition was represented by Andy Snider of Michigan Turkey Producers who testified during the Senate Agriculture Committee’s farm bill field hearing Saturday morning at Michigan State University. The group urged Congress to establish a forward-looking disease prevention program with rapid response and robust laboratory capacity, creating a network of specialists focused on minimizing disease impacts.

The coalition’s members warned that an outbreak of a foreign animal disease has the ability to cripple the entire agriculture sector, with long-lasting ramifications to the economic viability of U.S. livestock and poultry production. Including the disease prevention proposal in the 2018 farm bill would address these risks to animal health and bolster the nation’s long-term competitive ability.

“In the 2015 outbreak of highly pathogenic avian influenza, farmers, rural communities and companies shouldered the personal burden of the virus and learned that you can never be prepared enough. We need to work with our federal partners to build a more robust safety net that relies on expert resources of federal and state research and veterinary science,” National Turkey Federation president Joel Brandenberger said. “Replenishing those resources and renewing our defenses to reduce the long-term impacts of another disease outbreak protects our nation’s food supply and economic strength.”

“This Animal Disease & Disaster Prevention Program is an ideal approach, pulling together a successful partnership,” said Marvin Childers, president of the State Poultry Association Executives and the Poultry Federation for Arkansas, Missouri and Oklahoma. “This would create a reliable and efficient plan, targeting state and regional coordination of resources protecting animal health and producer livelihood.”

The Animal Disease & Disaster Prevention Program would draw funding for the National Animal Health Laboratory Network and a new state-specific block grant program designed to increase safeguards for animal disease prevention. The two-tiered program will deliver sufficient development and timely deployment of all measures necessary to prevent, identify and mitigate the potential catastrophic impacts that an animal disease outbreak would have on the nation’s food security, export markets and overall economic stability. It would:

  • Provide a proactive and concerted “boots on the ground” prevention effort administered by the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Animal & Plant Health Inspection Service to focus on early detection and rapid response to protect the nation’s animal agriculture industry.
  • Build upon the 2014 farm bill’s authorization of the National Animal Health Laboratory Network to summon federal resources with states, industry and universities to reduce disease impact, provide rapid detection and response, as well as develop disease prevention and mitigation to include vaccines, prevent entry and spread of foreign animal diseases into the U.S., plus identify and support critical research needs.
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