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New Office Aims to Strengthen Relationships with U.S. Livestock and Poultry Industries
By Blair Fannin
 
The World Organisation for Animal Health, also known as OIE, officially opened the  U.S.-based liaison office in College Station Nov. 6 during a ceremony at the Texas A&M AgriLife Center.
 
“Our modern agricultural economy is highly dependent upon two things: freedom from disease and trade,” said Dr. Melissa Berquist, director of the Institute for Infectious Animal Diseases in College Station. “Following the outbreak of an infectious livestock or poultry disease, the ability to efficiently implement science-based standards and demonstrate freedom from disease is imperative to limiting the loss of revenue, ensuring safe trade and protecting food security.
 
“Better understanding global animal health and zoonotic threats improves preparedness, prevention and response. Supporting the development of science-based standards, and providing effective tools and training for disease surveillance, control and eradication is at the core of the institute’s mission.”
 
Drs. Eleanor Greene, Luis Barcos, Jean-Phillip Dop, John Clifford and Craig Nessler cut the ribbon opening the OIE U.S. Liaison Office at Texas A&M University in College Station, Texas on Nov. 6
 
The office is co-located with and hosted by the Institute for Infectious Animal Diseases, part of Texas A&M AgriLife Research and a member of The Texas A&M University System, and an OIE collaborating centre in the specialty of biological threat reduction.
 
As an intergovernmental organization responsible for improving animal health and welfare worldwide, the OIE is recognized by the World Trade Organization – the standard-setting body for animal health regulatory activities.
 
“I’m happy to welcome the OIE to the Texas A&M campus and look forward to consistent engagement,” said John Sharp, chancellor of The Texas A&M University System. “We are glad to give the world broad access to our experts in agriculture, veterinary medicine and research.”
 
Drs. Luis Barcos, John Clifford, Jean-Phillip Dop and Melissa Berquist. The World Organisation for Animal Health, also known as OIE, officially opened the U.S.-based liaison office in College Station Nov. 6 during ceremonies at the Texas A&M AgriLife Center.
 
“The opening of a liaison office is a first for the organisation,” said Dr. Jean-Phillippe Dop, OIE deputy director general and veterinarian who provided remarks during the event. “This new U.S.-based office will open additional lines of communication between the OIE and U.S. veterinary and public health parties, allowing for better collaboration when it comes to disaster preparedness, emergency planning and animal disease surveillance.”
 
Traditionally, permanent official relations with the OIE member countries as well as international and regional organisations are maintained through the official national delegate and the 12 regional and sub-regional representations, covering every continent. While the OIE Liaison office does not change any traditional communication channels, the office will provide new avenues for high-level engagement with U.S. government agencies, non-governmental organizations and private sector constituents, according to officials. They said this strengthened relationship with U.S. animal production stakeholders is expected to reinforce the understanding of the OIE international standards at the national level, as well as an increased appreciation of the importance and challenges of global animal health transparency.
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