Bush's Request Includes $35 Million To Guard Against Foreign Animal Disease

The President's FY2001 supplemental appropriations request to Congress will include an additional $35 million for the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) to enhance activities designed to protect U.S. agriculture from serious animal disease threats such as foot and mouth disease (FMD) and bovine spongiform encephalopathy (BSE).

"Given the various foreign animal disease outbreaks in other parts of the world this year, USDA has been conducting a top-to-bottom review of its core programs to ensure we have the necessary resources to protect American agriculture from devastating animal diseases," said USDA Secretary Ann M. Veneman. "These additional funds will help strengthen these important programs."

Components of the FY 2001 supplemental request include:

  • $4.5 million for inspections at U.S. borders and ports of entry for passengers and cargo arriving from other countries, with a special emphasis on those countries affected by FMD and BSE;
  • $24.6 million for additional veterinarians and animal health assessments to ensure that foreign animal diseases would be detected quickly should they ever penetrate U.S. borders. This includes $13.5 million to strengthen state surveillance and infrastructure programs.
  • $1.9 million for contingency planning for immediate control and eradication in the event of a foreign animal disease outbreak;
  • $1.7 million for technical assistance worldwide to monitor diseases and help those trying to control and eradicate them; and
  • $2.3 million for continuous improvement of tools and technologies through research.       

"While we have been vigilant for years and have successfully prevented many foreign animal diseases from entering our country, recent outbreaks of foot and mouth disease across the world and ongoing concerns about BSE underscore the need to strengthen our safeguarding system," Veneman said.

Earlier this year, in the wake of FMD outbreaks in Europe and other countries, Secretary Veneman authorized $32 million in spending for the hiring of 350 new inspection personnel and the doubling of USDA's canine inspection teams. This was in addition to nearly 400 inspectors already being hired during 2001 and another 200 being reassigned from other program areas.

USDA has taken an integrated approach to protecting the United States from FMD and other diseases. This has included prohibiting shipments of products from high risk countries; increasing personnel at ports of entry; tightening regulatory enforcement; increasing surveillance of incoming passengers and cargo; enhancing monitoring and surveillance of domestic livestock; strengthening federal, state and industry coordination; implementing public education campaigns; and dispatching experts to other countries to assist in containment efforts. USDA continues a top to bottom review of these core animal and plant health programs to ensure it has the necessary resources to prevent foreign animal diseases from entering the U.S. and have the ability to eradicate such diseases should they ever enter the country.

FMD is a highly contagious and economically devastating disease of ruminants and swine. The United States has been free of FMD since 1929. FMD is one of the animal diseases that livestock owners dread most because it spreads widely and rapidly and because it has grave economic consequences. The disease is not a human health concern, nor it is a horse health concern, but is has affected the international movement of horses, since they potentially can carry the disease mechanically on the surface of their bodies.

BSE--which is not related to FMD--is a chronic degenerative disease affecting the central nervous system of cattle. It has been linked to new-variant Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease in humans. USDA has conducted an aggressive exclusion and surveillance program for a decade, and BSE has never been detected in the United States.

Current information on FMD and BSE are available on the Internet at www.usda.gov or for recorded FMD traveler information call 1-866-SAFGUARD.

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