That’s why poultry, cattle and pork producers and veterinarians all agree that one of our greatest priorities must be rapidly identifying and responding to diseases, not only to protect the health and welfare of the animals that produce our food but to ensure that an outbreak, such as the highly pathogenic avian influenza (HPAI) outbreak that struck the Midwest in 2015, doesn’t harm the people whose livelihoods depend on our industry.
The devastating impact of HPAI is a reminder of the damage avian and animal diseases can have on local farmers, our community and the larger economy. While Michigan’s $760 million egg and poultry industry was spared, in all, farms across 15 states were affected by the outbreak, with a loss of more than 48 million birds from chicken and turkey flocks. Estimates of the economic losses totaled more than $3.3 billion.
Avian influenza is just one disease threat. Foot and mouth disease (FMD) threatens our pork, cattle and dairy industries, and new disease threats are on the horizon. An outbreak of FMD would immediately close all export markets. The beef export losses alone within the first year would be estimated at around $6.34 billion, not to mention the cumulative impact on beef and pork over a 10-year period would be more than $128 billion. These costs can only be mitigated if the U.S. mounts a swift and thorough response once FMD is detected.
The 2018 Farm Bill is the opportunity for Congress to support our farmers in fighting these animal diseases. As an industry, we encourage our elected representatives to support a three-tiered proposal that will go a long way toward preventing emerging diseases in the livestock and poultry industries.
First is a new program in which producers and their veterinarians would work with inspectors to proactively and swiftly act on potential threats to our nation’s food supply. The Animal Pest, Disease and Disaster Prevention and Response Program (APAD) would give us tools to be well prepared to respond at the time of a food animal disease crisis. APAD focuses on early detection and rapid response to protect the nation’s animal agriculture industry.
The second tier would strengthen our surveillance capability by reauthorizing and funding the National Animal Health Laboratory Network, which is the first line of defense in animal disease prevention and testing. Michigan State University’s Veterinary Diagnostic Laboratory is part of this network.
Finally, we support a provision that would quickly meet the need for vaccines to prevent the spread of high consequence animal diseases, such as FMD, by establishing and maintaining a rapidly deployable Animal Vaccine Bank. The current vaccine bank arrangement cannot provide finished vaccines quickly enough or in enough doses and strains to meet needs in the early stages of a disease outbreak.
These programs are critical to identifying, mitigating and preventing the potential catastrophic impacts of an animal disease outbreak on our country’s food security, export markets and overall economic stability. Michigan’s farmers urge members of our congressional delegation to support inclusion of these provisions and provide mandatory funding as they consider and secure passage of the 2018 Farm Bill.
Allison Brink is the executive director of Michigan Allied Poultry Industries, Inc., a non-profit statewide trade organization representing Michigan’s egg, chicken and turkey farmers.
SOURCE: Lansing State Journal
Michigan Allied Poultry Industries is a producer-led organization that serves and represents over 50 Michigan family-owned poultry farms with more than 15 million laying hens, 6 million chicken broilers, and 5.3 million turkeys represented. Michigan Allied Poultry is committed to the advancement and prosperity of the poultry industry through advocacy, education and development.
Michigan Allied Poultry Industries, Inc.
PO Box 144
Hamilton, MI 49419