Tester Backs Bill to Prevent and Manage Animal-Borne Disease Outbreaks; Protect Agricultural Economy

Senator’s Animal Disease and Disaster Prevention Act would reauthorize and increase funding for USDA initiatives that prevent and manage animal-borne illnesses

In an effort to protect Montana’s farmers and ranchers from the economic impacts of animal-borne diseases, U.S. Senator Jon Tester today backed the bipartisan Animal Disease and Disaster Prevention, Surveillance, and Rapid Response Act. The bill would reauthorize and increase funding for U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) programs that prevent and manage animal-borne illnesses.

“As a third-generation family farmer, I know how destructive animal-borne illness can be to our agricultural economy,” said Tester. “When I travel around the state, I hear about what a blow these diseases deal to Montana meat and poultry producers, and that’s why I fought for two new USDA programs to prevent the spread of Foreign Animal Disease in the 2018 Farm Bill. This bill will give a needed boost to those critical programs and protect our economy against the impacts of animal-borne disease outbreaks for years to come.”

Foreign animal disease outbreaks threaten America’s food security. An ongoing outbreak of High Path Avian Influenza has infected 58 million birds, required the USDA to spend $800 million containing the disease, and contributed to a significant spike in the price of eggs over last winter. Other animal diseases would have even more severe consequences if they spread to the United States. Should Foot in Mouth Disease ever reach the U.S., it is expected to cost America’s beef, pork, and sheep industries up to $10 billion in losses from trade disruptions. Ranching is a large part of Montana’s economy, making the state particularly vulnerable to the economic consequences of animal diseases. 

Tester led the charge to include provisions in the 2018 Farm Bill to prevent and manage the spread of animal-borne illnesses. In particular, he pushed for the creation of two new programs to help USDA prevent the spread of Foreign Animal Diseases. The National Animal Disease Preparedness and Response Program (NADPRP) funds USDA projects related to disease surveillance, large-scale vaccination planning, and animal depopulation. The National Animal Vaccine and Veterinary Countermeasures Bank (NAVVCB) funds USDA’s efforts to stockpile vaccines and animal testing kits.

The Animal Disease and Disaster Prevention, Surveillance, and Rapid Response Act would increase mandatory funding for NADPRP and establish significant annual funding for NAVVCB.  The bill also increases appropriations levels for the National Animal Health Laboratory Network (NAHLN), a group of laboratories that conduct animal disease surveillance. The Montana Veterinary Diagnostic Lab in Bozeman is a member of the NAHLN, which supports the lab’s ability to test for diseases like Foot and Mouth Disease (FMD) and African swine fever.


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