March 1, 2013
The Animal Agriculture Coalition's (AAC) 2013 Farm Bill recommendations letter was sent this week to the members of the House and Senate Agriculture Committees with a copy to Secretary Vilsack. The American Sheep Industry Association is an AAC member.
"As you begin your work to pass a new bipartisan, five-year Farm Bill, the AAC-which is comprised of most major animal and animal-related commodity organizations as well as allied organizations representing veterinary medicine, animal science and various livestock sectors or animal agriculture interests in the United States-looks forward to working with you to ensure that farm policy benefits all agriculture interests. It is critical that the new draft bolsters the long-term ability of U.S. animal agriculture to be competitive in the global marketplace and provides consumers around the world with safe, wholesome, affordable food that is produced in a sustainable manner. We urge Congress to pass a comprehensive five-year Farm Bill this year, as the agriculture industry cannot weather another temporary extension."
AAC stressed that research and education productivity is hampered by insufficient funding for both the Agricultural Research Service and the National Institute for Food and Agriculture's Agriculture, Food and Research Institute. Therefore, an investment in more resources on animal health, livestock, poultry and aquaculture production, as well as in new animal products research was urged.
"Expenditures for animal health are just 7 percent of those designated for human health research. Investment in animal health and production innovation for the world's 25 billion chickens and turkeys, more than 1 billion cattle and sheep, 750 million pigs and goats and more than 1 billion companion animals is grossly insufficient," the letter continued.
Additional provisions supported by AAC with a direct impact on the U.S. sheep industry include the reauthorization of the Foreign Agriculture Service's Market Access and Foreign Market Development Programs through 2017.
Because most drug approvals are sought only for those animal species that are produced in sufficient numbers to support large volume sales, specifically the major species (i.e., cattle, swine, chickens and turkeys), the private sector has little incentive to secure label claims for minor or specialty species. High costs associated with generating data necessary for approval with limited economic return has precluded adequate drug development for the management of diseases in minor species (i.e., sheep, farmed bison, reindeer, deer and fallow deer, meat and dairy goats, catfish, trout, finfish, lobster, game birds, rabbits and honey bees). Therefore, the inclusion of a Minor Use Animal Drug Program (MUADP) is being supported.
AAC also supports a competitive grant program within the Agricultural Marketing Service for the purpose of improving the U.S. sheep industry. The grant program would help to strengthen and enhance the production and marketing of sheep and sheep products, including improvement of infrastructure, business, resource development and innovative approaches to solve long-term needs with $1.5 million in mandatory funds and authorized at $3 million for each fiscal year 2013 through 2017.