A bipartisan group of U.S. representatives and senators has introduced legislation that would strengthen federal programs combating destructive foreign animal diseases (FAD) that threaten U.S. livestock.
Introduced in the U.S. House and Senate on May 19, the Foreign Animal Disease Prevention, Surveillance, and Rapid Response Act of 2023 (H.R. 3419/S. 1666) would reauthorize and increase annual appropriations for the U.S. Department of Agriculture's (USDA) National Animal Disease Preparedness and Response Program (NADPRP) to $70 million and National Animal Vaccine and Veterinary Countermeasures Bank (NAVVCB) to $150 million.
Additionally, the bill would raise the annual budget for the National Animal Health Laboratory Network (NAHLN) to $45 million.
"The preventative investments made through this bill will ensure the U.S. Department of Agriculture is able to safeguard our agricultural supply chain and mitigate the effects of foreign animal diseases, if, and when an outbreak occurs in the U.S., rather than playing catch-up after the fact," House bill sponsor Rep. Ronny Jackson, who represents Texas's 13th Congressional District, said in a statement.
Minnesota Senator Amy Klobuchar, sponsor of the Senate version of the bill, said in a statement, "When animal disease outbreaks hit, the impact is felt by farmers, rural communities, and our entire food supply chain. That's why I worked with Senator (John) Cornyn to ensure that animal disease preparedness would be part of the 2018 Farm Bill."
The 2018 Farm Bill created new animal health programs to bolster the USDA's response to foreign animal diseases. The act established the NADPRP and the NAVVCB and increased funding for the NAHLN. The NADPRP implements projects that enhance prevention, preparedness, detection, and response to emerging FADs; the NAVVCB allows the USDA to stockpile animal vaccine and foreign animal disease diagnostic test kits to use in the event of an FAD outbreak; and the NAHLN is a network of 60 federal, state, and university animal health laboratories that provide animal health diagnostic testing to surveil and detect biological threats.
Numerous livestock and veterinary associations have signaled their support for the legislation, including the AVMA.
"The proposed legislation would allocate the appropriate resources to the National Animal Health Laboratory Network and other federal programs that are essential in protecting food security and public health through the ability to respond to high-consequence animal disease events," AVMA President Lori Teller said in a press release.
"The AVMA supports this bill," Dr. Teller continued, "and we urge Congress to provide this necessary protection for our country through the bipartisan Foreign Animal Disease Prevention, Surveillance, and Rapid Response Act of 2023."
This year, NADPRP funding supported projects focused on enhancing prevention, preparedness, detection, and response activities for the most damaging diseases that threaten U.S. livestock.
Some of the projects funded included targeted learning modules for the poultry industry on highly pathogenic avian influenza at the University of Minnesota and extending a between-farm model of transmission of African swine fever to estimate the necessary number of sample collectors in a highly swine-dense region at North Carolina State University.