The House Agriculture Committee on Wednesday marked up the Agriculture and Nutrition Act of 2018 (H.R. 2), also referred to as the 2018 Farm Bill. A section of the bill provides funding for foreign animal disease preparedness.
The National Pork Producers Council (NPPC) had submitted a three-pronged funding request for preventative Foot and Mouth Disease (FMD) measures. NPPC chief veterinarian Liz Wagstrom previews proposed funding in the farm bill.
“Within the Farm Bill draft, which is being voted on yet today (Wednesday), is full funding for the first year. Then, years two through five, it drops down to where there is mandatory funding of $30 million for grants for the states, for preparedness and prevention, and $20 million a year that can be used at the Secretary’s discretion for any of the three activities,” Wagstrom said.
The appropriation falls short of NPPC’s original request: $150 million to build and maintain a FMD vaccine bank, $30 million for the National Animal Health Laboratory Network (NAHLN), and $70 million in block grants for state animal health agencies. Each facet of the proposal aimed for annual funding for the life of the farm bill, which is five years.
Wagstrom says NPPC will push for additional funding, as the farm bill moves forward.
“Today is the first step as it passes the House Agriculture Committee,” Wagstrom said. “When it goes to the full floor, there’s a chance for amendments. The Senate may come up with a difference about the funding, and then it would it become something we can work on in conference committee. There are still several opportunities through the farm bill.”
NPPC fears United States livestock producers would lose all trade opportunities in the event of a foreign animal disease outbreak. Wagstrom adds the effects would be “overwhelming,” and reiterates the importance of having a reliable vaccine bank to minimize the cost of destruction.
“We really need the vaccine to be able to slow the spread and help us move toward freedom,” Wagstrom said. “Iowa State’s Dr. Dermot Hayes has estimated that it would be about a $200 billion in lost sales over 10 years to pork, beef, corn and soybeans. That doesn’t include the cost of depopulation, repopulation, cleanup and indemnity for animals that were depopulated.”