NCBA's Allison Rivera Holds USDA's Dragging Feet to the Fire on FMD Vaccine Bank's ImplementationTue, 20 Aug 2019 10:13:21 CDT
Since this past Christmas, the United States Department of Agriculture has been working to implement the programs and provisions included in the 2018 Farm Bill. One provision the livestock industry is especially interested in seeing implemented, is Congress’ instructions to establish a Foot & Mouth Disease (FMD) vaccine bank to mitigate the risk of a potential outbreak of this highly infectious disease on American soil. During the recent National Cattlemen’s Beef Association’s Summer Business Meeting, Radio Oklahoma Ag Network Farm Director Ron Hays caught up with Allison Rivera, executive director of government affairs for NCBA’s DC office, to talk about the status of that project’s implement at the USDA. According to her, progress on this project at the USDA has been slow though she and her peers within the US livestock industry continue to pressure the department to get the ball rolling.
“It’s one thing to pass a Farm Bill, but it’s another to make sure USDA is implementing what Congress has asked for them to do,” Rivera said, remarking on a recent visit with USDA leaders. “We’re really trying to stress that, ‘ok we’re getting close to the end of the year… what are we looking at before we get to the end of the year.’ Because, you know, the longer we wait, we don’t want to see the price per vaccine go up as we - for lack of a better word - drag our feet.”
In the 2018 Farm Bill, Congress appropriated $5 million to this project, with instructions that some of that money be used for state preparedness. Rivera says NCBA is supportive of that but is also concerned that movement should be made on establishing the vaccine bank and doing the most the USDA can with the funds available. She says the maximum value that can be extracted from those funds depreciates the longer it is not spent as the companies that make the vaccines leverage their prices as demand rises. Given the time sensitivity of this project in that regard, Rivera says the collective livestock industry is working together to apply pressure on USDA officials to move forward with the bank’s creation.
“We want to make sure we continue to put the pressure on our friends at USDA - especially when we talk about what’s going on in the pork world with African Swine Fever,” she said. “That makes the conversation about having preparedness and being ready with this bank and protecting our borders - it kind of ties everything together. So, really just trying to continue to stress the importance of getting the bank up and running.”
Listen to Rivera’s full conversation with Hays about the status of the FMD vaccine bank’s implementation by the USDA, on today’s Beef Buzz.
The Beef Buzz is a regular feature heard on radio stations around the region on the Radio Oklahoma Network and is a regular audio feature found on this website as well. Click on the LISTEN BAR below for today's show and check out our archives for older Beef Buzz shows covering the gamut of the beef cattle industry today.
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