The National Cattlemen's Beef Association and National Pork Producers Council have expressed their endorsement for a bill presented in both the House and Senate, aiming to amend the Animal Health Protection Act. The bill in question is the Foreign Animal Disease Prevention Surveillance and Rapid Response Act of 2023, which seeks to allocate additional funding to three farm bill programs established in 2018. These programs include the National Animal Vaccine and Veterinary Countermeasures Bank, the National Animal Disease Preparedness and Response Program, and the National Animal Health Laboratory Network.
The President of the NCBA, Todd Wilkinson, who is a cattle producer from South Dakota, emphasized the significant risk that a foreign animal disease outbreak poses not only to cattle producers but also to the nation's food security and overall safety. He stressed the urgency of taking proactive measures to prepare for and prevent such a crisis, expressing his satisfaction with the bipartisan support for the Foreign Animal Disease Prevention, Surveillance, and Rapid Response Act.
The National Animal Vaccine and Veterinary Countermeasures Bank plays a crucial role in providing foot-and-mouth disease vaccines and diagnostic test kits. The National Animal Disease Preparedness and Response Program oversees initiatives like the Secure Beef Supply plan, which equips businesses with resources to ensure safe operations during foreign disease outbreaks. The National Animal Health Laboratory Network conducts disease research and testing. Tom Portillo, Chair of the NCBA Cattle Health and Well Being Committee, affirmed the vital importance of each of these programs in safeguarding animal and food safety.
Portillo described the vaccine bank, NADPRP, and the laboratory network as a "three-legged stool" that represents the strategy for protecting the cattle and beef industry from the threat of foreign animal diseases. He emphasized the need for Congress to allocate sufficient funding to support these three critical programs to effectively protect the cattle industry.
The Senate version of the bill was introduced by Senators Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.), John Cornyn (R-Texas), and Joni Ernst (R-Iowa). In the House, it was introduced by Representatives Ronny Jackson (R-Texas), Angie Craig (D-Minn.), Jim Costa (D-Calif.), Don Bacon (R-Neb.), and Don Davis (D-N.C.).
Scott Hays, President of the NPPC and a pork producer from Missouri, expressed appreciation for Senators John Cornyn, Amy Klobuchar, and Joni Ernst, as well as Representatives Ronny Jackson, Don Bacon, Jim Costa, Angie Craig, and Don Davis, for introducing this vital legislation aimed at safeguarding animal health. With the persistent threats of African swine fever and other foreign animal diseases to the livestock and poultry industries, having these provisions included in the farm bill will ensure that the United States maintains its ability to provide safe and affordable food to consumers worldwide.