NCBA Chief Vet Kathy Simmons Says Farm Bill Funding Critical to Realizing Secure Beef Supply PlanWed, 01 Aug 2018 13:38:50 CDT
During the ongoing process to craft the next Farm Bill that will replace the existing legislation expiring in September of this year, one request stemming from the livestock industry has been that appropriations be set aside in this new bill to fund work necessary to catch the US up to speed on the biosecurity of our nation’s animal-based food supply. Dr. Kathy Simmons, chief veterinary officer for the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association explained the status of those negotiations with Radio Oklahoma Ag Network Farm Director Ron Hays, Wednesday, in Denver as the 2018 Cattle Industry Business Meeting commenced. You can listen to their entire conversation by clicking or tapping the LISTEN BAR below at the bottom of the page.
This request for increased biosecurity is of course multifaceted, but the largest and certainly the most talked about aspect of it, is the creation of a dedicated vaccine bank that would store a sustainable supply of vaccines to use in counteracting a widespread epidemic in livestock populations in the event of a foreign animal disease outbreak - such as the highly infectious and potentially catastrophic prospect of Foot & Mouth Disease occurring, for example.
“That’s something we’ve all been working on for many years prior to coming into this Farm Bill,” Dr. Simmons said. “We all realize that when we ask for a project of this magnitude we have to have planning for both before, during and after the process of the Farm Bill.”
Currently, she reports that the Farm Bill process is working its way to conference, where conferees from both the House and Senate will meet to find harmony between the two different versions of the draft legislation. According to Simmons, the House version of the bill includes mandatory funding for this project, while the Senate version has only authorized funding but with no mention of mandatory funds specifically. This is one aspect that will likely be a major topic of discussion that will have to be resolved during those negotiations in order for this project to move forward.
“As we find out what the funding levels will be - we will be able then to work with USDA and others to try to make this a reality and certainly be one step closer to protecting ourselves against foreign animal and transboundary diseases,” she said.
In planning for this project, USDA has conducted research to determine the most effective and versatile vaccine that should be stocked to fight the most threatening strains of diseases, like FMD. It’s also planned for managed movement of infected livestock, including the coordination of quarantine zones and working with stakeholders and state and federal authorities. All of which has been assembled under what has become known as the 'Secure Beef Supply Plan' - which ensures continuity of business for non-infected product to move to the consumer.
In addition, Simmons says the USDA is also working with the Department of Homeland Security in constructing a new facility on the Kansas State University campus in Manhattan, Kan. which will eventually house infectious pathogens of threatening diseases for research and vaccine production purposes. This project is underway currently and is scheduled to be complete by 2022.
“So, there are many things to be planning still,” Simmons concluded, “but once we find that we have the support from the Farm Bill, a lot of those things will move forward.”
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