Statement of Interest
Chairman Rouzer, Ranking Member Costa, and distinguished members of the Subcommittee on Livestock and Foreign Agriculture, the National Association of State Departments of Agriculture (NASDA) applauds the Committee’s work to reauthorize the farm bill prior to its expiration in 2018, and NASDA appreciates the Subcommittee holding a hearing on “The Next Farm Bill: Livestock Producer Perspective” on March 21st. NASDA stands ready to assist Congress in developing a robust and comprehensive farm bill prior to the expiration of the Agricultural Act of 2014 to ensure our farmers, ranchers, and rural communities have the tools and infrastructure necessary to continue to produce the world’s food, fiber, and fuel.
NASDA represents the Commissioners, Secretaries, and Directors of the state departments of agriculture in all fifty states and four territories. As elected and appointed officials, our members serve as strong advocates for American agriculture and are partners with a number of federal agencies in regulating, marketing, and providing services to the agricultural community. As the chief agriculture officials in their states, NASDA members are keenly aware of the changing dynamics, increasing challenges, and new opportunities in agricultural production across the country and have a deep appreciation for the important contribution agriculture makes to our nation’s security and economy.
NASDA Farm Bill Perspective & Animal Diseases
Agricultural producers, the rural economy, and communities of every size rely upon a forward looking and fully funded Farm Bill. NASDA calls for enhanced investment in American agriculture that provides producers the tools they need to succeed. The Farm Bill is also vital to providing consumers access to the safest, highest quality and affordable food supply, which is essential for our nation’s economy and security.
One of NASDA’s 2018 Farm Bill priorities is to implement a proactive, multi-faceted animal disease program, which is needed to safeguard animal agriculture, promote sustainable economic development and prevent catastrophic events that could threaten our nation’s food supply. An outbreak of a foreign animal disease has the ability to cripple the entire agricultural sector and have long-lasting ramifications for the economic viability of U.S. livestock production. It is essential that the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) working cooperatively with state animal health officials have a robust response capability in the form of a rapidly deployable animal vaccine bank, sufficient laboratory capacity for disease surveillance and rapid response capability at the state level.
NASDA calls on Congress, in the 2018 Farm Bill, to establish a multi-tiered program to deliver the sufficient development and timely deployment of all measures necessary to prevent, identify and mitigate the potentially catastrophic impacts an animal disease outbreak would have on our country’s food security, export markets, and overall economic stability.
Modeled after the highly successful plant pest and disease management and disaster prevention programs, a new Animal Pest and Disease Disaster Prevention Program, administered by APHIS, would provide a proactive and concerted preventative “boots on the ground” effort focusing on early detection and rapid response to protect the nation’s animal agriculture industry. It is envisioned that this program would be structured to take full advantage, through support and collaboration, of the science generated by the National Institute of Food and Agriculture (NIFA) program established under section 1433 of the National Agricultural Research, Extension and Teaching Policy Act of 1977, the Continuing Animal Health and Disease Research Program.
Building upon the 2014 Farm Bill’s authorization of the National Animal Health Laboratory Network (NAHLN), the Animal Disease and Disaster Prevention Program will help support NAHLN and bring together the federal government with states, industry, universities, and other interested groups to reduce the impact of high-consequence animal diseases, provide rapid detection and response capabilities to respond to animal diseases, develop disease prevention and mitigation technologies including vaccines, prevent the entrance and spread of foreign animal diseases into the United States, and identify and support critical research needs.
Additional investments are requested to establish and maintain a rapidly deployable vaccine bank for high consequence animal diseases. The ability to rapidly vaccinate against diseases, such as Foot & Mouth Disease (FMD), is central to the U.S. disease control strategy should an outbreak occur. Currently, the U.S. does not have access to enough FMD vaccine, and the current vaccine bank arrangement has several problems in addition to insufficient funding. U.S. livestock groups have requested that APHIS contract for an offshore FMD vaccine bank and capacity for domestic stockpiling of other animal disease vaccines. Such an arrangement would, at minimum, provide vaccine antigen concentrate for all FMD strains currently circulating in the world. Additionally, it would ensure resources are in place for production capacity (including surge capacity) that would produce in the shortest amount of time sufficient vaccine to meet needs in the early stages of an outbreak.
NASDA requests the Committee carefully consider the immediate needs and challenges with addressing animal diseases. NASDA stands ready to work with the Committee to expand on the authorization for the National Animal Health Laboratory Network (modeled after the aforementioned invasive species programs) to help bring together the federal government with states, industry, universities, and other agricultural stakeholders to reduce the impact of high-consequence animal diseases, provide rapid detection and response capabilities, develop disease prevention and mitigation technologies, support a vaccine bank infrastructure, prevent the entrance and spread of foreign animal diseases into the U.S., and identify and support critical research needs.
Thank you for your consideration of this testimony, and please contact Dudley Hoskins (firstname.lastname@example.org) if you have any questions.