Leaders in the livestock industry are lobbying congress to set aside millions of dollars so a “vaccine bank” can be created to head off any foot-and-mouth disease outbreak. Jim Heimerl, an Ohio hog farmer who is president of the National Pork Producers Council, was in Des Moines this week for the World Pork Expo.
“The United States doesn’t have enough FMD vaccine or ability to produce it to handle even a medium-sized outbreak,” he says.
An outbreak of foot-and-mouth disease could cost livestock producers hundreds of millions of dollars and would be a huge financial hit to corn and soybean farmers, too, as Heimerl says there’d be a dramatic reduction in the amount of grain needed to feed livestock.
Heimerl says, “We’re asking congress for $115 million a year for the next five years in the next Farm Bill for a vendor-managed FMD vaccine bank as well as funding for federal diagnostics labs and state disease prevention efforts,” he says.
Foot-and-mouth disease — sometimes called “hoof and mouth disease” — is a highly-contagious disease that attacks pigs, cattle, sheep and other animals with “cloven” of divided hooves. According to the USDA, the disease can spread quickly and cause “significant economic losses.”
In 2001, more than six million cattle and sheep were slaughtered in Britain due to an outbreak there.
(story courtesy of Radio Iowa)