Today, Rep. Cindy Axne (IA-03) joined a group of Democratic lawmakers in a letter to House leadership seeking $75 million in funding for the Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) at the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) to prevent and prepare for a possible African Swine Fever outbreak in the U.S. swine population.
Axne and six other House Democrats requested that House Leadership include this funding in the next continuing resolution or supplemental appropriations package that moves through Congress.
“A confirmed ASF positive sample in any U.S. state or territory would be devastating to the American pork industry and rural economy. An outbreak in any part of the U.S would restrict pork producers from being able to participate in global trade,” the members wrote. “America’s pork producers are a crucial part of the food supply chain domestically and they contribute close to seven billion dollars in global exports. Therefore, significant additional investments in APHIS are vital.”
In July, APHIS confirmed the presence of African Swine Fever (ASF) in samples collected from hogs in the Dominican Republic, raising concerns that an outbreak could reach the United States.
The letter was led by Axne, Rep. Angie Craig (MN-02), and Rep. Cheri Bustos (IL-17). The letter was also signed by Agriculture Committee Chairman David Scott (GA-13), Livestock and Foreign Agriculture Subcommittee Chairman Jim Costa (CA-16), G.K. Butterfield (NC-01), and Abigail Spanberger (VA-07).
“It is critical that USDA has the funds needed to protect the U.S. swine herd from African swine fever,” said Jen Sorenson, president of the National Pork Producers Council. “Although ASF isn’t a threat to people, among hogs it’s highly contagious with mortality rates approaching 100 per cent. If ASF enters our country and we are unable to control it, hundreds of thousands of American jobs and billions of dollars would be lost. We thank the members of Congress on this letter for their work to protect U.S. pork and call on Congress to act now.”
In 2019, Rep. Axne led the introduction of the Protecting America’s Food and Agriculture Act to hire, train, and deploy new agricultural specialists to prevent ASF from reaching our food supply. The measure was signed into law in March 2020.
You can find the full text of the letter here and below.
Dear Speaker Pelosi:
As the 117th Congress continues its work to deliver results for the American people, we urge you to prioritize funding for the Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) at the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) to prevent and prepare for a possible African Swine Fever (ASF) outbreak in the U.S. swine population. Significant investments to prevent ASF are necessary now to ensure that pork producers in our districts and across the country do not suffer the severe consequences of a potential ASF outbreak in the United States.
In an alarming update published on July 28, 2021, APHIS confirmed ASF in samples collected from hogs in the Dominican Republic. In the nearly two months since that announcement, APHIS has rapidly mobilized to prevent ASF from entering the U.S. A confirmed ASF positive sample in any U.S. state or territory would be devastating to the American pork industry and rural economy. An outbreak in any part of the U.S would restrict pork producers from being able to participate in global trade. America’s pork producers are a crucial part of the food supply chain domestically and they contribute close to seven billion dollars in global exports. Therefore, significant additional investments in APHIS are vital.
In the next continuing resolution or supplemental appropriations package, we urge you to ensure that $75 million is included for the following ASF preparedness and response provisions:
Increased funding of $20 million for additional staff for APHIS-Veterinary Service (VS) field force. This funding will build field capacity to respond to and address a potential ASF or other foreign animal disease outbreak on the mainland U.S. or U.S. territories.
Funding the National Animal Health Laboratory Network (NAHLN) at the authorized level of $30 million. This investment would double capacity for ASF-PCR testing at NAHLN laboratories and build infrastructure and workforce capabilities to address foreign animal disease surveillance and response.
$25 million for the National Veterinary Stockpile for large animal depopulation and disposal equipment. If ASF is detected in the U.S., large-scale euthanasia or depopulation of animals will be necessary for the emergency control and eradication of ASF. The lack of resources within the NVS was a serious gap during the response to COVID market disruptions.
Thank you for considering this urgent request and incorporating significant ASF prevention funding in the next available vehicle that moves through this Congress.