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House committee hears concerns over FMD preparedness, need for vaccine bank

The House Agriculture Subcommittee on Livestock and Foreign Agriculture recently held a hearing to examine the nation’s preparedness in the event of the introduction of foot-and-mouth disease into the United States. The subcommittee reviewed steps that have been taken and what still needs to be accomplished.

Representatives of U.S. livestock associations stated the need for a vaccine bank to protect the nation’s livestock industry from FMD. The National Pork Producers Council called for an adequate vaccine bank and said it would require:

  • Contracting with an offshore, vendor-maintained vaccine antigen bank that would have available antigen concentrate to protect against all 23 of the most common FMD types currently circulating in the world.
  • Maintaining a vendor-managed inventory of 10 million doses of vaccine, which is the estimated need for the first two weeks of an outbreak.
  • Contracting with an international manufacturer or manufacturers for the surge capacity to produce at least 40 million doses.

Currently the “National Veterinary Stockpile” holds no FMD vaccines and is underfunded. Jim Rock of Iowa State University testified that an FMD outbreak in the United States would cost the U.S. pork and beef industries $12.9 billion per year over a 10-year period. Also, the U.S. corn industry would lose $44 billion and soybean industry would lose $24.9 billion over the same time period. The last FMD outbreak in the United States was 1929, but countries in Africa, Asia, South America and the Middle East have difficulty preventing and managing the disease.

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