U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue recently testified before the House Agriculture Committee at a hearing titled, “The State of the Rural Economy.” Several different topics were covered during the hearing, including the development of a vaccine bank to address livestock diseases.
“While we refer to it as a ‘vaccine bank’ it’s actually a broader strategy than that,” Secretary Perdue said, noting it is a three-pronged approach. “One is really an awareness system working with states and then a laboratory network and then a real vaccine bank.”
The 2018 Farm Bill authorizes $150 million over a five-year period to be used in the development of a vaccine bank. While Secretary Perdue acknowledged that additional funding may be required to adequately address the issue, the agency is “looking and trying to determine what is the best expenditure of tax payer money regarding the technology of vaccines.”
The cost of funding the development of a vaccine bank is drastically less than the cost of addressing an outbreak of disease. “These transmissible diseases have kind of began with foot and mouth. African swine fever has kind of taken the attention most recently because of the news in China, but they’re all devastating,” said Perdue. “Either of those diseases and others could be crippling to our ag economy and livestock economy in the United States and we can’t be too vigilant about that.”