As Ag Secretary Sonny Perdue continues to fill out his cabinet, members of the livestock industry are already looking towards discussion of the 2018 farm bill. Top of the list is adequate protection from infectious disease outbreaks, namely foot and mouth disease (FMD).
It is the most infectious human or animal disease agent known
FMD is the most contagious disease we have to deal as an industry, says Colin Woodall, vice president of government affairs at the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association, during a recent policy meeting in Missouri.
“Many people don’t know our government doesn’t have enough vaccine to respond in case of FMD,” he says. “What little vaccine we do have has expired, and we are vulnerable—whether that is accidental exposure, or intentional.”
Intentional exposure is a real threat—FMD is listed on the Department of Homeland Security’s list of agents that could be used in bioterrorism.
“If this country ever had an FMD outbreak, it not only would devastate my farm and the whole livestock industry but the entire U.S. economy,” says David Herring, National Pork Producers Council (NPPC) vice president, who testified in March before the House subcommittee on Livestock and Foreign Agriculture.
Woodall says NCBA proposes a $150 million per year line item for five years to establish a vaccine bank to protect U.S. agriculture from a FMD outbreak. “It’s a big ask—but it pales in comparison to what a response would cost if we had an outbreak of FMD,” Woodall says.
NPPC anticipates the U.S. will need an inventory of 10 million doses of vaccine, the estimated need for the first two weeks of a potential outbreak. Then, establish a contract with manufacturers for a surge capacity to produce at least 40 million doses in the event of an outbreak. The vaccine bank would also need to store FMD antigen against all 23 of the most common types of the disease.
“We need the capacity to produce enough FMD vaccine to quickly control, then eradicate the disease, and we need the funds to make that happen,” Herring said.
Source: OIE, USDA, National Pork Producers