Livestock farmers have achieved an unprecedented victory in the 2018 farm bill conference report passed through the Senate on Tuesday and the House on Wednesday, says Dustin Baker, National Pork Producers Council (NPPC) director of economics and domestic production issues.
“The United States has been ill-prepared to deal with a foreign animal disease outbreak for quite some time,” Baker says. “The farm bill’s multifaceted approach to surveillance, diagnostics and vaccines is critical to safeguard the health and well-being of our animals, rural economies and the safety of the food supply.”
The vaccine bank is part of a broader, NPPC-led initiative on animal disease preparedness. The initiative includes mandatory, permanent funding for these endeavors. Under the new farm bill, USDA will be able to use $150 million over the next five years for a foot-and-mouth disease (FMD) vaccine bank, for the National Animal Health Laboratory Network (NAHLN), and for state efforts to prepare for any foreign animal disease outbreak.
“Animal health and well-being is the highest priority for American pig farmers,” Baker says. “Surveillance of foreign animal disease is more important now than ever in an ever-globalizing world. The U.S. pork industry is working with USDA to prevent African swine fever from entering our country, which is currently spreading throughout Asia and Europe.”
The bill also includes funding for both the Market Access Program and the Foreign Market Development Program that support export markets for U.S. farm goods. These programs are funded at not less than $200 million and not less than $34.5 million, respectively.
“This is a huge win for the pork industry,” says Mike Haag, Illinois Pork Producers Association President and pig farmer from Emington, Ill. “We are proud that it includes mandatory funding for animal disease prevention and preparedness.”
The farm bill now moves on to President Donald Trump’s desk to be signed into law. He has previously indicated he will sign the bill. However, timing is unclear.
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