Alton, IL

Vaccine Sought for Foot and Mouth Disease

Story by WBGZ Radio

Illinois livestock producers are urging U.S. Department of Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue to fund a vaccine bank that could help combat the impacts of any possible foot and mouth disease outbreak.


Illinois Pork Producers Association President Jason Propst told Perdue earlier this week in Rochester that if a five-year, $150 million vaccine bank for a possible foot and mouth outbreak isn’t available and an outbreak happens, a quarter of the U.S. hog industry would take a hit.


“Which in turn takes away all of our largest users of corn and soybeans in the U.S.,” Propst said. “So we feel it’s very important that we have that foot and mouth bank to be able to save our livestock industry and in turn be able to drive our corn and soybean industry in the U.S.”


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Joni Bucher with the Illinois Beef Association said cattle farmers are also concerned “because it’s not a question of if, it’s when.”


“This will happen,” Bucher said, “and it will affect us dramatically, all of us, anyone who eats.”


The money would be used for an emergency foot and mouth disease (FMD) vaccine bank to allow for quick production of the latest vaccines if an outbreak were to occur.


A letter the National Cattlemen's Beef Association sent to officials in Washington D.C. also urged that the vaccine bank be created, saying the investment in the FMD vaccine bank is better than trying to contain an outbreak after the fact.


"An outbreak of FMD would immediately close all export markets. The cumulative impact of an outbreak on the beef and pork sectors over a 10-year period would be more than $128 billion," the letter said. "The annual jobs impact of such a reduction in industry revenue is more than 58,000 in direct employment and nearly 154,000 in total employment."


Perdue said he hears their concerns and will do everything possible to work with Congress to find the money.


“Just don’t get hung up on $150 million,” Perdue said. “I’m going to try to find the money, but you know we can do it with less and $25 million a year, or something like that. I told you we’re going to do more with less.”


The Illinois Department of Agriculture says the disease is one of the most difficult animal infections to control. And while the USDA says North America is free of the disease, there’s always a chance of accidental introduction into the U.S., especially after a recent outbreak in the United Kingdom that spread to continental Europe.


It’s unclear when the next farm bill will be approved. Perdue said he hopes there’s no delay and that the 2018 farm bill will be in place for 2018. The last farm bill was approved in 2014.


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