Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue on Thursday authorized non-infectious Foot-and-Mouth Disease (FMD) virus to be moved from USDA’s Plum Island Animal Disease Center, which is off the coast of Long Island, N.Y., to the U.S. mainland for vaccine development and study. (U.S. law prohibits live infectious viruses on the mainland.) While the action is positive for U.S. efforts to protect American agriculture from foreign animal diseases, commercial production and availability of a U.S. FMD vaccine will take years, according to NPPC, which is continuing to urge congressional lawmakers to include in the 2018 Farm Bill language establishing and funding a robust off-shore, vendor-managed FMD vaccine bank.
It’s asking for annual funding over the five years of the next Farm Bill of $150 million for the vaccine bank; $30 million for the National Animal Health Laboratory Network (NAHLN), a network of disease diagnostic laboratories; and $70 million in state block grants for disease prevention.
The Farm Bill approved last week by the House Agriculture Committee would establish an FMD vaccine bank but only has first-year mandatory funding of $150 million for the bank, $70 million in block grants to the states and $30 million for the NAHLN. For the remaining four years combined, it calls for $30 million in mandatory funding for state block grants and $20 million, used at the Secretary of Agriculture’s discretion, for the vaccine bank, the NAHLN and the states.