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Iowa ag secretary asks for budget increase

Iowa ag secretary asks for budget increase

Mike Naig seeks an additional US$250,000 for animal disease preparations

By Diego Flammini
Staff Writer
Farms.com

Iowa’s agriculture department is requesting additional state funding to help prepare for the chance of animal disease outbreaks.

On Monday, agriculture secretary Mike Naig included an extra US$250,000 in the Iowa Department of Agriculture and Land Stewardship’s fiscal budget for 2020.

The state legislature already provided US$250,000 for foreign animal disease preparations this fiscal year. The support included hiring Dr. Andrew Hennenfent as the department’s emergency management coordinator.

Naig’s request would bring the total funding to US$500,000.

“Avian influenza, African swine fever and other foreign animal diseases continue to represent a significant threat to our livestock farms and emphasize the need for us to expand efforts to prevent, prepare and potentially respond to an animal disease emergency,” Naig said in a statement Monday.

Industry representatives hope the government will come through with the additional funding.

Doubling the allotted resources will help improve disease outbreak response efforts, said Pat McGongele, CEO of the Iowa Pork Producers Association.

“This funding is critical to get our preparedness in a better shape than where we were a few years ago,” he told Farms.com. “We’ve committed time and effort to making sure the (ag) department’s database system is in a solid position and have done additional planning to be able to respond quickly should an outbreak occur.”

Whether or not the legislature agrees to provide the ag department with the additional US$250,000 remains to be seen.

The proposal still needs to go through several channels, said Dustin Vande Hoef, communications director with the Iowa Department of Agriculture and Land Stewardship.

“The funding would be for fiscal year 2020, which starts on July 1 of 2019,” he told Farms.com. “The governor will release her budget proposal in January, and then the Iowa legislature will consider that proposal. We might not find out until sometime close to the end of May (2019).”

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