United States pork producers are “bearing the brunt” of trade talks. However, pork proponents will not let the industry fall to a foreign animal disease outbreak.
AUDIO: Dustin Baker, National Pork Producers Council
The National Pork Producers Council (NPPC) continues to advocate for Congressional funding, dedicated to a Foot-and-Mouth Disease (FMD) vaccine bank. Dustin Baker, deputy director of economics and domestic production for NPPC, says United States lawmakers can help pork producers prepare for a foreign animal disease outbreak.
“We’ve been asking for $150 million per year for the life of the Farm Bill, in order to establish a FMD vaccine bank. We’re lucky we haven’t had an outbreak in this country since 1929, but it’s not a matter of if, but when we get an outbreak. We really need to be prepared because in the event of an outbreak, we know that export markets would shut down and have devastating economic impacts throughout the rural economy,” Baker said.
U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Under Secretary for Marketing and Regulatory Programs Greg Ibach says the USDA is closely working with members of the House of Representatives and Senate to discuss ways to incorporate a Foot-and-Mouth Disease vaccine bank at the Department. Ibach says the Department can remain vigilant in its foreign animal disease outbreak protocol, in an effort to prevent an outbreak, until additional action has been taken.
“For decades, USDA has partnered with the industry to do surveillance, education and work at the borders to provide protection, and we’ve been successful at keeping FMD out of the United States,” Ibach said. “I think we need to realize that even if we have other tools available to us, the most important thing we can do each and every day is maintain our vigilance, biosecurity, protection at our borders and put together an education process that equips farmers, tourists and government to be able to keep us disease free.”
United States pork producers currently export 26% of domestic production. Baker says a foreign animal disease outbreak, introduced unintentionally or intentionally, would have lasting impacts on the pork industry.
“Certainly, it would take time for the market to adjust to a new equilibrium. And during that time, producers would go out of business and there would be ripple effects throughout the rest of the economy – whether its on corn and soybeans or the mom and pop shop down the street,” Baker said. “It would certainly have long lasting impacts and take years to reopen those markets, so we want to be as prepared as we can be to help alleviate that impact.”