The National Pork Producers Council praised yesterday’s passage by the House of the “Agriculture and Nutrition Act of 2018,” which includes several provisions important to U.S. pork producers, and urged the Senate to quickly pass its version of the 2018 Farm Bill.
Chief among the important provisions is language establishing and funding a Foot-and-Mouth Disease vaccine bank. FMD is an infectious viral disease that affects cloven-hooved animals, including cattle, pigs and sheep; it is not a food safety or human health threat. Although it was last detected in the United States in 1929, the disease is endemic in many parts of the world and would be financially devastating to U.S. agriculture if an outbreak were to occur here.
“Pork producers are pleased that the House approved its 2018 Farm Bill,” said Jim Heimerl, a pork producer from Johnstown, Ohio, and president of NPPC, which has been the leading advocate for an FMD vaccine bank. “But we need adequate funding in it to protect the livestock industry and the American economy.”
NPPC is asking lawmakers for funding in each year of the next Farm Bill of $250 million – $150 million for the vaccine bank, $70 million for state block grants for disease prevention and $30 million for the network of laboratories that provide disease diagnostic support.
The House version of the five-year agricultural blueprint includes those amounts only for the first year; for each of the other years, it has $30 million for state block grants and $20 million to be used at the Agriculture secretary’s discretion for the grants, labs and the vaccine bank. While the Senate legislation calls for an FMD vaccine bank, it includes money only for the labs.
“The United States is not prepared for an FMD outbreak, so we really need to have the full five-year mandatory funding,” said Heimerl. “We hope the Senate heeds our plea. We can’t afford the financial devastation this disease would wreak on farmers and the U.S. economy.”
The House bill also includes funding for the NPPC-supported Market Access Program and the Foreign Market Development Program, both of which help support exports markets for U.S. goods. The programs are consolidated as the International Market Development Program. Additionally, the measure has money for feral swine eradication. According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, there are an estimated 5 million feral swine in at least 39 states; the cost of controlling them and the amount of damage they do is about $1.5 billion annually.
Original release June 21, NPPC