Last week, USDA’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service said it is considering a number of options regarding how it would respond to animal health emergencies. Those options include depopulation and vaccination, as well as possible combinations of the two, along with a commitment to keep the vaccination options open. Further, APHIS indicated it would take economic factors into consideration when deciding whether to focus primarily on vaccination or depopulation as its principle eradication tool.
During the meeting, R-CALF USA CEO Bill Bullard expressed concern that if APHIS decides to alleviate the costs associated with depopulation for a concentrated hog operation with tens of thousands of hogs by using vaccination, then the agency must also give the same consideration to the numerous cattle owners who could be affected should an outbreak of FMD be detected on rangeland. Bullard said, - APHIS cannot give preferential treatment to concentrated livestock operations under a too-big-to-fail theory while forcing the depopulation of many smaller herds owned by many different producers.
R-CALF USA expressed concern that APHIS has been systematically de-emphasizing the prevention of the introduction of foreign animal diseases by relaxing long-standing import standards and now is emphasizing disease control and management instead of prevention. Bill Bullard said this strategy is a mistake and threatens the U.S. cattle industry’s goal of maintaining the healthiest cattle herd in the world.