Representatives of the National Pork Producers Council, the National Milk Producers Federation, the National Corn Growers Association and Iowa State University recently called on the U.S. Department of Agriculture to move as quickly as possible to establish a foot-and-mouth-disease vaccine bank.
The groups recognized the steps USDA has taken to establish the bank but called for expedient use of mandatory funding included in the 2018 farm bill to purchase the volume of vaccines required to effectively contain and eradicate a foot-and-mouth-disease outbreak, according to a news release from the NPPC. Currently the USDA, which has prescribed vaccination for dealing with a foot-and-mouth-disease outbreak, doesn’t have access to enough vaccine to avoid devastating economic consequences to the U.S. economy should an outbreak occur, the groups said.
Foot-and-mouth disease is an infectious viral disease that affects cloven-hooved animals including cattle, pigs and sheep. It would have widespread long-term fallout for livestock and crop agriculture, including the immediate loss of export markets. According to Iowa State University research, an outbreak would result in $128 billion in losses for the beef and pork sectors, $44 billion to corn farmers and $25 billion to soybean farmers. It would lead to job losses of more than 1.5 million across U.S. agriculture during 10 years.
“If the United States had a large outbreak of (foot-and-mouth disease) it may be impossible to control without the rapid availability of adequate supplies of vaccine,” said James Roth, veterinarian and a professor in the department of Veterinary Microbiology and Preventative Medicine at Iowa State University. “The U.S. vaccine bank is our best insurance policy to respond to an outbreak in the United States. As with most insurance policies we hope to never use it, but it's paramount that we have fast access to enough vaccine if we ever need it.”
Liz Wagstrom, chief veterinarian with the NPPC, said, “U.S. pork producers and other farmers are currently faced with a wide range of challenges, including export-market uncertainties, flooding and other weather events. Unlike challenges beyond our control, a solution for (foot-and-mouth-disease) preparedness is in our grasp.”
Sarah McKay, director of market development at the National Corn Growers Association, said, “On average pork exports contribute 28 cents a bushel to the price of corn, so the control of infectious diseases via a vaccine bank is important not only to livestock producers but corn growers as well.”