ASI Supports Coalition's Disease Prevention Plan
May 5, 2017

Support has united behind a new Animal Disease and Disaster Prevention Program with the leadership of major animal agriculture groups, animal science and veterinary medicine urging Congress to include this program in the 2018 Farm Bill. This broad coalition will be represented by Andy Snider of Michigan Turkey producers who will testify during the Senate Agriculture Committee's Farm Bill field hearing on Saturday, May 6, at Michigan State University. The group urges 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 warn that an outbreak of a foreign animal disease has the ability to cripple the entire agricultural 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.

"It is critical that USDA Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service work collaboratively with state animal health officials to be able to rapidly respond to any such outbreak," said American Sheep Industry Association Executive Board member Bob Buchholz during congressional testimony earlier this year. "Of particular concern is the threat posed by the reintroduction of FMD, either inadvertently or intentionally. While we must do everything we can to eliminate the risk of reintroduction of FMD, we must also be prepared in the event of an outbreak. It is critical that U.S. producers have immediate access to a viable vaccine bank. We join with others in the livestock industry in supporting the creation and maintenance of an FMD vaccine bank and continued research. We also urge Congress to provide the authority and $150 million a year in mandatory funding for USDA APHIS to protect the U.S. livestock industry from an FMD outbreak."

The Animal Disease and 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:
  • Providing a proactive and concerted "boots on the ground" prevention effort administered by USDA's Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service to focus early detection and rapid response to protect the nation's animal agriculture industry.
  • Building 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.