Closings, Cancellations and Delays

New U.S. livestock vaccine countermeasure bank stocks first purchase of FMD vaccine

News Staff - July 9, 2020

Washington, DC – With the announcement from USDA of the first purchase of foot-and-mouth disease vaccine for a U.S.-only, national vaccine countermeasure bank, U.S. cattlemen and pork producers may be resting easier.

Highly contagious diseases have been around for a long time; brucellosis, tuberculosis, bovine spongiform encephalopathy (aka BSE or Mad Cow Disease), rabies, and foot and mouth disease. The latter hasn't been seen in the U.S. since 1929, but if it happened today, it would shut down the U.S. cattle industry and all of its export markets.

In the past decade and a half, livestock producers in South Dakota and across the country have put a priority on bolstering the country’s animal disease infrastructure. The opening of the vaccine bank is among those priorities.

National Cattlemen’s Beef Association, the National Pork Producers Council, the American Sheep Industry Association, and the National Milk Producers Federation all lobbied as early as 2017 for a fully funded vaccine bank.

The Agriculture Department’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) will invest $27.1 million in FMD vaccine, which the agency would use in the event of an outbreak to protect animals and help stop the spread of disease, the announcement said.

It represents the first purchase for the National Animal Vaccine and Veterinary Countermeasures Bank. The 2018 Farm Bill provided $150 million in mandatory funding over the next five years for the vaccine bank, the National Animal Health Laboratory Network, and the National Animal Disease Preparedness Program.

The new U.S.-only vaccine bank — a concept APHIS officials have long discussed with stakeholders and industry — makes a much larger number of vaccine doses available than is currently available through the North American Foot & Mouth Disease Vaccine Bank, the agency said.

NCBA says the announcement is a promising first step, but more action is needed to strengthen the newly created vaccine bank. That may be in reference to the lack of a mandatory traceability program that has been resisted by many ranchers who fear abuse of the data collected and the costs involved.

The National Pork Producers Council and the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association welcomed the announcement.  NPPC called the announcement momentous and says it provides a solution for FMD preparedness should an outbreak occur. 

Boehringer Ingelheim has been awarded the contract to create and maintain a strategic reserve of frozen vaccine antigen concentrate that the company could quickly formulate into a vaccine for FMD should an outbreak occur.

Senate Agriculture Appropriations Committee Chairman John Hoeven, R-N.D., said, “We worked to establish a national animal vaccine bank in the 2018 farm bill, and we welcome this investment in a FMD vaccine. USDA’s investment in this animal vaccine bank will help address risks to animal health and provide important safeguards for our nation’s livestock industry.”

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