by Ken Root and Whitney Flach
Animal Agriculture in the United States is a very large industry, about $200 billion per year. Yet, our investment in research technology and disease prevention is very small in comparison to what is spent on the crop sector. The director of the USDA Animal Disease Laboratory, Dr. Marcus Kuhrli spoke at a major animal disease symposium in Omaha
(Dr Marcus Kuhrli full interview).
“I think we obviously are investing in animal research but if you look at the gross domestic product of agriculture as a business it’s about $400 billion a year roughly half of that is animal agriculture,” Kuhrli said. “Any business that is going to grow itself is going to be based on biotechnology and good solid science has to invest in research to stay ahead of the curve and stay ahead of diseases that livestock and poultry producers have been experiencing.”
“We experience one disease a year that emerges somewhere on planet earth in the last three decades. We don’t have the resources from a research perspective to adequately address those problems in all situations.
Kuhlri continued on by talking about One Health. One Health, is the idea that many emerging diseases can move between animal and humans, and they can go both ways. The funding for this is very small. There is a great deal needed in the USDA side of this so that future researchers can fill the void that has been created. The competitive grant system is now properly funded for the universities. There is half as many scientist as there were 30 years ago. That greatly limits how much research is done, and that is largely driven by available funding.
Kuhrli continues on explaining that, “We have the safest, cheapest, most sustainable food supply in the world of any nation because the investments we’ve made in animal research.”