Livestock Vaccine Bank A Top Priority for US Farm Bill

Posted by on June 14th, 2018 | 0 Comments »

When livestock are healthy, not only do animals have a better quality of life and good animal welfare outcomes, they produce their milk, meat and eggs more efficiently.

This increases the sustainability of livestock production since fewer animals are needed, thereby reducing the environmental impacts of raising livestock while increasing global food security and nutrition.

Yet one-fifth of livestock around the world are lost to disease, which causes wide-spread suffering for animals, as well as significant financial consequences for producers and consumers. [1]

Click on the photo to see a video by the National Pork Producers Council about the importance of protecting pigs from foot-and-mouth disease  For more on the economic impact of livestock disease outbreaks, see the 2017 Global Agricultural Productivity Report® (GAP Report®), page 32.

One of the greatest threats to the livestock sector is the deadly foot-and-mouth disease (FMD), a highly infectious virus that affects cattle, pigs and sheep.

While no outbreaks have occurred recently in the United States, it is endemic in many parts of the world.  With increased global trade, diseases cross borders faster than they ever have before.

An outbreak in the U.S. would result in the closure of export markets for U.S. meat products, including meat that had not been infected. This would create a glut of edible meat on the domestic market, which U.S. demand could not absorb.  A domestic surplus of pork, beef and sheep products would reduce the demand for corn and soybean animal feeds.

The economic consequences would be wide and deep, impacting many sectors in the agriculture and food industries, as well as the U.S. economy as a whole.

Over the course of ten years, the livestock and feed sectors would lose nearly $200 billion and more than 1.5 million jobs related to the production, processing and sale of livestock products would be lost, before the sector recovered. [2]

Banking Against An Outbreak

FMD is highly contagious and difficult to contain, yet the U.S. does not have a sufficient supply of vaccine, nor the ability to produce it quickly in large quantities.

To prevent widespread outbreaks of FMD, and other high consequence animal diseases, the U.S. needs to increase its capacity to detect diseases early and a stockpile of vaccines that can be quickly deployed to protect animals in the outbreak area and beyond.

The U.S. needs a stockpile of vaccines that can be deployed quickly to prevent outbreaks of highly contagious livestock diseases, like FMD.

 

The next Farm Bill provides an opportunity to increase our ability to detect and combat outbreaks of high-consequence animal diseases, particularly FMD.

Livestock producer groups are urging Members of Congress to provide funding of $150 million for the creation of a vaccine bank. [3]

They are also requesting funds to strengthen the nation’s rapid animal disease detection and response capabilities. This includes investments in the Animal Pest and Disease Program and the National Animal Health Laboratory Network, a collaboration between State Animal Health Officials and Departments of Agriculture, USDA and the country’s premier diagnostic laboratories.

The House version of the 2018 Farm Bill includes these requests and calls for mandatory funding; the Senate version also includes the requests, but does not mandate funding.

As negotiations between the two chambers commence, livestock producers and animal health researchers are reminding lawmakers how vulnerable the U.S. livestock industry is to outbreaks of infectious disease, and the profound consequences to U.S. producers and consumers alike if the U.S. remains unprepared to handle them.

 

 

[1] Bernard Vallat, “Feeding the World Better by Controlling Animal Diseases,” editorial from Director General, World Organization for Animal Health, (September 8, 2015).
[2] Found in Issue Paper, Foot and Mouth Disease, National Pork Producers Council, information from Iowa State University, accessed at: http://nppc.org/issues/issue/
farm-bills/
[3] “House Farm Bill Established, Funds FMD Vaccine Bank,” National Pork Producers Council, April 12, 2018.
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