Beef, turkey, sheep and pork industry representatives all testified in favor of a stronger program to protect animals from disease, especially foot-and-mouth disease. The Hagstrom Report says the groups gave testimony on Tuesday at a hearing before the House Agriculture Livestock and Foreign Agriculture Subcommittee. The National Cattlemen’s Beef Association and the National Pork Producers Council both testified in favor of spending $150 million on an FMD vaccine bank. Current foot-and-mouth disease funding is at $1.9 million. National Turkey Federation President and Minnesota turkey farmer Carl Wittenburg said the proposal should build on the 2014 Farm Bill’s authorization of the National Animal Health Laboratory. The new proposal should establish the national FMD vaccine bank, help develop a block grant system that allows states and key groups to target areas of concern, and take full advantage of the science generated by the National Institute of Food and Agriculture program. All the groups giving testimony want the new program to be included in talks as Congress develops the 2018 Farm Bill.
From the National Association of Farm Broadcasting news service.
From: National Cattlemen’s Beef Association
NCBA President Testifies on Cattlemen’s Priorities for 2018 Farm Bill
$150M for FMD Vaccine Bank, Regulatory Relief, Trade Top Group’s Agenda
In testimony on Capitol Hill today, Craig Uden, a fourth-generation cattle producer from Nebraska and the president of the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association, called on Congress to authorize $150 million a year over five years for a “stronger and more adequate foot-and-mouth disease (FMB) vaccine bank” as part of the 2018 Farm Bill. Uden testified before the House Agriculture Committee’s Subcommittee on Livestock and Foreign Agriculture.
“Foot-and-mouth disease is highly contagious and has the potential to spread widely and rapidly, debilitating our herds,” Uden warned subcommittee members in his oral testimony. “Analysts estimate that an FMD outbreak in the United States could potentially cost our nation’s livestock producers billions of dollars in the first 12 months alone. An FMD outbreak has the potential to cause enormous economic losses to not only livestock producers, but also to auction markets, slaughterhouses, food processors and related industries.”
Uden also testified that the vast majority of cattlemen oppose the federal government’s involvement in determining how their cattle are marketed – whether through vehicles like Grain Inspection, Packers and Stockyards Administration’s (GIPSA’s) interim final rule on competitive injury or through mandatory Country of Origin Labeling (mCOOL.)
“Our analysis of the (GIPSA) rule leads us to believe that if this rule is implemented, the packers will offer one price for all cattle, regardless of quality,” Uden testified. “We believe this rule would eliminate value-based marketing programs and negatively impact producers, making it more difficult to provide the types of beef products that consumers are clamoring for.”
Uden continued on the issue of mandatory, government-dictated, country-of-origin labeling: “Repeal of the previous mandatory program was necessary since, after six and a half years of implementation, it provided no market benefit to beef producers or consumers. On top of that, it also violated trade agreements with two of our largest and vital trading partners.”
Uden concluded his Farm Bill testimony by stressing the importance of international trade to the American beef industry.
“Trade is vital to the beef industry, and protecting trade promotion programs such as the Foreign Market Development and Market Access Programs within the 2018 Farm Bill are important,” Uden said. “Ninety-six percent of the world’s consumers reside outside U.S. borders. We recognize that the growth and profitability of the U.S. cattle and beef industry is closely tied to our ability to market our products to those consumers.”