The U.S. pork industry wants to ensure consumers here at home and around the world are supplied with safe, wholesome pork. Thanks to vigilant diligence by the USDA and the U.S. Bureau of Customs and Border Protection, we have been able to keep numerous foreign animal diseases (FADs) outside our borders.
The agriculture community worked very hard to ensure the 2018 Farm Bill included funding for a U.S. foot-and-mouth disease (FMD) vaccine bank, and farmers made their voices heard at Farm Bill listening sessions, stressing the importance of the bank. Under the Farm Bill, USDA is authorized to use $150 million over the next five years for an FMD vaccine bank, for the National Animal Health Laboratory Network and for state efforts to prepare for any foreign animal disease outbreak. The bill also gives Agriculture Secretary Perdue discretion to dedicate additional funding for this critical initiative.
FMD can infect all cloven-hooved animals. Therefore, an FMD outbreak would cripple the entire agricultural sector and have long-lasting ramifications for the economic viability of U.S. crop and livestock production. An FMD outbreak would immediately close all export markets to U.S. pork, as well as other commodities, and according to Iowa State University economists, it would translate into more than $128 billion in losses for the beef and pork sectors, losses of $44 billion and $25 billion, respectively, to the corn and soybean farmers, and job losses of more than 1.5 million, industry-wide.
Unfortunately, the U.S. does not have quick-enough access to an FMD vaccine to handle more than a very small, localized outbreak of a limited number of strains. Since FMD includes 24 different strains present in many countries we need to increase both the number of strains we have and the number of doses of each of those strains. Vaccine manufacturing capacity is not adequate to supply vaccine on demand. Turnaround time to produce enough vaccine would be weeks for a small outbreak and months for a large one. That's why an adequate FMD vaccine bank is necessary.
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