Meat industry proposes animal disease protection in farm bill
March 23, 2017
Representatives of the beef, turkey, sheep and pork industries all testified in favor of establishing a stronger program to protect animals from disease, particularly foot-and-mouth disease, when the House Agriculture Livestock and Foreign Agriculture Subcommittee held a hearing Tuesday on livestock issues in the next farm bill.
The National Cattlemen's Beef Association and the National Pork Producers Council both testified in favor of spending $150 million per year on a foot-and-mouth disease (FMD) vaccine bank.
"The current FMD efforts are funded at just $1.9 million. But the cost pales in comparison to the economic cost of an FMD outbreak in the United States. NPPC urges Congress to provide the authority and $150 million a year in mandatory funding for USDA APHIS [the Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service] to protect the U.S. livestock industry from an FMD outbreak," said David Herring of Newton Grove, N.C., NPPC president.
Carl Wittenburg, a Minnesota turkey producer and chairman of the National Turkey Federation, said the proposal should build upon the 2014 farm bill's authorization of the National Animal Health Laboratory, establish the FMD vaccine bank, provide for the development of a block grant system that allows states and other key players to strategically target areas of concern and "take full advantage, through support and collaboration, of the science generated by the National Institute of Food and Agriculture (NIFA) program."
The beef, turkey and pork representatives also testified about their vigorous opposition to completion of the Farmer Fair Practices rule, also known as the GIPSA [Grain Inspection, Packers and Stockyards Administration] rule.
"Beyond ensuring that producers have the tools they need to succeed, I am committed to working with industry and the administration to continue efforts to roll back these problematic regulations and to ensure new ones do not make their way into the next farm bill," House Agriculture Committee Chairman Michael Conaway, R-Texas, said in a statement after the hearing.
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National Farmers Union President Roger Johnson submitted a statement to the committee that the Farmer Fair Practices rule is needed.
"Family farmers and ranchers operating in an extremely consolidated marketplace should have the full protection of the Packers and Stockyards Act of 1921," Johnson said. "The Farmer Fair Practices rule will go a long way to make sure that farmers and ranchers can continue to operate with basic protections under the law."
–The Hagstrom Report