President George W. Bush has asked Congress for an additional $35 million to protect U.S. farms against foreign animal diseases.

“Given the various animal disease outbreaks in other parts of the world this year, USDA has been conducting a top-to-bottom review of its core programs to ensure we have the necessary resources to protect American agriculture from devastating animal diseases” such as foot-and-mouth disease and bovine spongiform encephalopathy (BSE), says Ann Veneman, Secretary of Agriculture. The additional funds were requested to help strengthen prevention, monitoring and eradication programs.

Specific components of the request include:

  • $24.6 million to hire additional veterinarians; $13.5 million of which will go to strengthen state surveillance and infrastructure programs.
  • $4.5 million to increase inspections at U.S. borders and ports of entry for all passengers and cargo arriving from other countries.
  • $2.3 million for research to improve the tools and technologies used to fight disease.
  • $1.9 million for contingency planning for immediate control and eradication if a foreign animal disease outbreak should occur.
  • $1.7 million for worldwide technical assistance to monitor diseases, and help those trying to control and eradicate them.

These funds are in addition to the $32 million which Veneman authorized earlier this year to hire additional inspectors and step up efforts to keep FMD out of the country.

USDA, Reuters