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Producers Prioritise FMD Vaccine Bank in Farm Bill

24 March 2017

US - The US pork industry’s top priority for the next Farm Bill is establishing a Foot-and-Mouth Disease (FMD) vaccine bank, the National Pork Producers Council told a House Agriculture subcommittee in testimony earlier this week.

“If this country ever had an FMD outbreak, it not only would devastate my farm and the whole livestock industry but the entire US economy,” said NPPC Vice President David Herring, a pork producer from Newtown Grove, North Carolina, who testified on behalf of the organization before the agriculture panel’s Subcommittee on Livestock and Foreign Agriculture.

To address a potential FMD outbreak, which would cost the beef, corn, pork and soybean industries alone an estimated $200 billion over 10 years, NPPC wants the 2018 Farm Bill to direct the US Department of Agriculture to:

  • Contract with an offshore, vendor-maintained vaccine bank that would have available FMD antigen concentrate to protect against all 23 of the most common FMD types currently circulating in the world.
  • Maintain a vendor-managed inventory of 10 million doses of vaccine, which is the estimated need for the first two weeks of an outbreak.
  • Contract with an international manufacturer or manufacturers for the surge capacity to produce at least 40 million doses.

“We need the capacity to produce enough FMD vaccine to quickly control, then eradicate the disease, and we need the funds to make that happen,” Mr Herring said.

Mr Herring, who also is vice president of Hog Slat Inc., which makes hog farm equipment, told the subcommittee that pork producers want a Farm Bill that supports the US pork industry rather than hinders its ability to continue producing safe, lean and nutritious pork for the global marketplace.

In addition to an FMD vaccine bank, he said the next Farm Bill should include policies for disease surveillance, research and trade promotion, which would help pork producers. Among policies that could hamper producers, said Herring, are the pending Farmer Fair Practices Rules and the Organic Livestock and Poultry Practices Rule. NPPC wants the Trump administration to withdraw both regulations.

Craig Uden, a fourth-generation cattle producer from Nebraska and the president of the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association, called on Congress to authorize $150 million a year over five years for a “stronger and more adequate foot-and-mouth disease (FMB) vaccine bank” as part of the 2018 Farm Bill. Mr Uden testified before the House Agriculture Committee’s Subcommittee on Livestock and Foreign Agriculture.

“Foot-and-mouth disease is highly contagious and has the potential to spread widely and rapidly, debilitating our herds,” Mr Uden warned subcommittee members in his oral testimony. “Analysts estimate that an FMD outbreak in the United States could potentially cost our nation’s livestock producers billions of dollars in the first 12 months alone. An FMD outbreak has the potential to cause enormous economic losses to not only livestock producers, but also to auction markets, slaughterhouses, food processors and related industries.”

Mr Uden also testified that the vast majority of cattlemen oppose the federal government’s involvement in determining how their cattle are marketed – whether through vehicles like Grain Inspection, Packers and Stockyards Administration’s (GIPSA’s) interim final rule on competitive injury or through mandatory Country of Origin Labeling (mCOOL.)

“Our analysis of the (GIPSA) rule leads us to believe that if this rule is implemented, the packers will offer one price for all cattle, regardless of quality,” Mr Uden testified. “We believe this rule would eliminate value-based marketing programs and negatively impact producers, making it more difficult to provide the types of beef products that consumers are clamoring for.”

Mr Uden continued on the issue of mandatory, government-dictated, country-of-origin labeling: “Repeal of the previous mandatory program was necessary since, after six and a half years of implementation, it provided no market benefit to beef producers or consumers. On top of that, it also violated trade agreements with two of our largest and vital trading partners.”

Mr Uden concluded his Farm Bill testimony by stressing the importance of international trade to the American beef industry.

“Trade is vital to the beef industry, and protecting trade promotion programs such as the Foreign Market Development and Market Access Programs within the 2018 Farm Bill are important,” Mr Uden said. “Ninety-six per cent of the world’s consumers reside outside US borders. We recognize that the growth and profitability of the US cattle and beef industry is closely tied to our ability to market our products to those consumers.”

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