Cattlemen voice support for new National Bio and Agro-Defense Facility
WASHINGTON - In testimony delivered today before the House Energy and Commerce Committee’s Subcommittee on Oversight and Investigations, National Cattlemen’s Beef Association (NCBA) President-elect Gary Voogt emphasized the need for a new diagnostic and research facility to protect American agriculture from foreign animal diseases. Voogt, a cattle producer from Marne, Mich., addressed committee members about the devastating impact that could be felt nationwide as a result of an outbreak of foot-and-mouth disease. This disease has not been found in the United States since 1929, but is still a problem in many foreign countries.
NCBA feels the Plum Island Animal Disease Center, located off the coast of Long Island, N.Y., has not been adequately funded or maintained for the purposes it is intended to fulfill. Cattlemen support construction of a state-of-the-art foreign animal disease research facility to replace Plum Island, but the organization is not advocating for a specific location.
“We believe modern bio-containment technology is adequate to protect our industry and to allow for safe research and diagnostics, regardless of location,” said Voogt.
NCBA supports construction of the new National Bio and Agro-Defense Facility because this new facility will give USDA and the Department of Homeland Security better tools to study and protect against foreign animal diseases. NCBA's support is contingent upon the ability of USDA to retain its mission of conducting research on all foreign animal diseases.
“It is imperative that the needs of the agricultural community not be lost in the expanding focus of the Department of Homeland Security,” said Voogt. “USDA's authority must be retained and supported to continue its responsibility of conducting research on all foreign animal diseases.”
NCBA's support is also contingent upon seeing a commitment from Congress and the Administration to ensure this facility is properly funded and maintained, so it does not fall into poor condition in a manner similar to Plum Island.
“We need a commitment from Congress and the Administration that this new facility will be properly funded and maintained for the long haul,” Voogt said.