June 13, 2023
Reps. Randy Feenstra, R- Iowa, and Jimmy Panetta, D- Calif., introduced a bill intended to limit the impact of isolated animal disease outbreaks. The Safe American Food Exports Act, or SAFE Act, would formally authorize USDA to negotiate regional agreements permitting the export of agriculture products produced in parts of the country unaffected by an animal disease outbreak.
When disease outbreaks occur, USDA typically works with the U.S. Trade Representative to establish contingency plans. The SAFE Act would amend the Animal Health Protection Act to establish a Congressional mandate for regionalization agreements. The Secretary of Agriculture would be authorized to negotiate regionalization, zoning, compartmentalization and other trade agreements in the event of a known animal disease threat.
“Foreign animal disease can devastate flocks and herds, preventing our farmers from selling their high-quality product on the global market,” Feenstra says. “To rectify this issue, I am proud to introduce legislation with my colleague Rep. Jimmy Panetta that ensures a disease outbreak in one part of the country does not impact Iowa’s ability to produce and export the agricultural goods that our country and the world rely on.”
The bill would also establish a notification system within the Import and Export Library. When changes are made to the library, the Food and Safety Inspection Service administrator would be required to directly notify each state department of agriculture, each lead state agency for animal disease and any state or national producer organization representing impacted livestock producers. Supporters believe this will protect American producers from the impacts of trade status changes for agriculture commodities.
Trade groups publicly endorsing the legislation include the National Turkey Federation, the American Feed Industry Association, the North American Renderers Association and the National Association of State Departments of Agriculture.
“State departments of agriculture play a critical role on the frontlines of foreign animal disease prevention, mitigation and recovery, and we appreciate this bipartisan effort to enable farmers and ranchers to more easily export safe food products to our trading partners,” NASDA CEO Ted McKinney says. “More collaboration and communication among federal partners enables state agriculture departments and U.S. farmers to better prepare and respond in the case of an outbreak and ultimately leads to stronger animal health and welfare across the U.S.”
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