The USDA’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) announced this week the first major foot-and-mouth vaccine purchase to store in the National Animal Vaccine and Veterinary Countermeasures Bank. APHIS will invest $27.1 million in foot-and-mouth disease (FMD) vaccine the Agency can use in the event of an outbreak to protect animals and help stop the spread of disease.

“While we are confident we can keep foot-and-mouth disease out of the country, as we have since 1929, having access to vaccine is an important insurance policy,” said Marketing and Regulatory Programs Under Secretary Greg Ibach. “Vaccines could be an important tool in the event of an incursion of the disease in the U.S, but their use will depend on the circumstances of the incursion and require careful coordination with the affected animal industries.”

Livestock organizations had been pushing for funding of the vaccine bank for years. The funding was secured in the 2018 farm bill as organizations like the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association and the National Pork Producers Council argued that an FMD outbreak would cripple the livestock industry and the economy of rural America.

NCBA Executive Director of Government Affairs Allison Rivera said, “This is a promising first step forward to begin the work authorized in the 2018 Farm Bill; but more action is needed to strengthen this newly created vaccine bank,” said NCBA Executive Director of Government Affairs Allison Rivera. “NCBA will continue to work with USDA, Congress, and other stakeholders to secure future funding, making certain that the entire cattle industry is better prepared for a possible outbreak of FMD.”

“Today’s announcement is momentous, representing years of NPPC advocacy to ensure U.S. agriculture is protected should we have an FMD outbreak,” said National Pork Producers Council president Howard “AV” Roth, a hog farmer from Wauzeka, Wisconsin in a statement. “While U.S. pork producers and other farmers face significant challenges and uncertainty due to the COVID-19 pandemic, a solution to FMD preparedness is in our grasp. We thank USDA and especially Under Secretary for Marketing and Regulatory Programs Greg Ibach for proceeding with such an important effort and look forward to continuing to work with the agency to ensure the FMD vaccine bank is adequately stocked.”

NPPC pointed to a study from Iowa State University that an FMD outbreak would lead to potentially $128 billion in losses over 10 years for the pork and beef sectors, as well as corn and soybean farmers.

Currently, the USDA, does have prescribed vaccination for dealing with Foot-and-Mouth Disease, but does not have access to enough vaccine should an outbreak occur. FMD is an infectious viral disease that affects cloven-hooved animals, including cattle, pigs and sheep but it is not a food safety or human health threat. The U.S. has not had an FMD outbreak since 1929.

 

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USDA/DTN/Northern Ag Network

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