A letter has been sent to members of Senate by 120 animal agriculture groups seeking funding for a disease preparedness program prior to the Farm Bill going to conference.
The letter addressed to Senate Conferees by the Animal Agriculture Stakeholders was sent on Aug. 15.
Both the Senate and House are thanked in the letter for including the National Animal Disease Preparedness and Response Program in the farm bill. The program would help in the prevention and identification of an animal disease outbreak, as well as creating a response protocol.
Funding within the program for a Foot and Mouth Disease (FMD) vaccine bank was not included in the original drafts of the Senate version of the Farm Bill. Members of the Animal Agriculture Stakeholders are primarily seeking funding for a FMD vaccine bank with the National Animal Disease Preparedness and Response Program.
“An outbreak of a foreign animal disease, such as Foot and Mouth Disease (FMD) or Avian Influenza, has the ability to cripple the entire agricultural sector and create long-lasting ramifications for the economic viability of U.S. aquaculture, livestock and poultry production. It is critical that the new Farm Bill provide permanent, full funding to address these risks to animal health while likewise bolstering the long-term ability of U.S. animal agriculture to be competitive in the global marketplace and provide consumers around the world safe, wholesome, affordable food produced in a sustainable manner,” the letter states.
Outbreaks like Avian Influenza in 2014 are extremely expense to control. The Animal Agriculture Stakeholders estimate that approximately $1 billion in costs to taxpayers were incurred, while the poultry industry lost $3 billion from the outbreak.
If FMD were ever to occur in the U.S. it might have larger impacts. Studies have shown that an uncontrolled FMD outbreak would result in economic losses of $199.8 billion during a 10-year period following the discovery.
“Animal agriculture continues to represent approximately half of all farm cash receipts, and over half when considering receipts from crops for animal feed. We urge you to include these necessary funds in conference as part of the permanent authorization proposed in the Senate bill. We believe this is needed to develop the gold standard animal disease preparedness and response program that this country needs,” the letter says.
Members of the coalition include national organizations such as American Association of Bovine Practitioners, American Veterinary Medical Association, National Cattlemen’s Beef Association, National Milk Producer’s Federation, National Pork Producers Council, National Turkey Federation and U.S. Poultry and Egg Association. There are also a number of individual state associations representing beef, dairy, pork and poultry producers who have also signed the letter.