Livestock farmers achieved an unprecedented victory when President Donald Trump signed the 2018 Farm Bill Thursday afternoon. Under the new farm bill, USDA will be able to use $150 million over the next five years for an FMD vaccine bank, for the National Animal Health Laboratory Network (NAHLN), and for state efforts to prepare for any foreign animal disease outbreak.
“The vaccine bank is part of a broader, NPPC-led initiative on animal disease preparedness,” says Dustin Baker, National Pork Producers Council (NPPC) director of economics and domestic production issues. “The initiative includes mandatory, permanent funding for these endeavors.”
Pig farmers across the country are celebrating this win and believe it’s a positive step forward to protect the U.S. pig herd.
"The livestock part of the new farm bill will be a great insurance policy against devastating disease threats for the livestock industry and to all that are affected by the economy it generates,” says Pat Bane, a pig farmer from Arrowsmith, Ill., who was recently named America’s Pig Farmer of the Year. “The science and technology we have today are wonderful; however, it takes funding and an action plan to reap their benefits."
Gregg Hora, president of the Iowa Pork Producers Association, applauds the bill’s passage and believes the guaranteed funding will help Iowa build on its already strong dedication to prepare for any foreign animal disease outbreak.
“Iowa pig farmers take much pride in producing safe, affordable protein for consumers in Iowa, the U.S. and around the world,” Hora says. “We are thankful for all the hard work Iowa’s Congressional delegation has put toward this effort.”
Meanwhile, several important trade development programs were funded in the farm bill and now have a permanent budget baseline, says Jim Wiesemeyer of ProFarmer. The Environmental Quality Incentives Program (EQIP) funding was increased by $275 million, with a total of $2.025 billion by 2023. The carveout for livestock producers was lowered to 50%.
Another important aspect of the bill is its continued support for international promotion of U.S. agricultural products, as the bill maintains funding for the USDA Market Access Program and the USDA Foreign Market Development Program.
“Support from these programs is an important tool for expanding global demand for U.S. pork, beef and lamb, as well as many other U.S. products,” says Dan Halstrom, president and CEO of the U.S. Meat Export Federation.
Trade issues weigh heavy on pork producers’ minds as they look ahead to 2019. The Iowa Pork Producers Association encourages the Trump Administration to end trade disputes that are unfairly holding back U.S. pork exports.
“The farm bill helps farmers improve their opportunities in producing food; and while U.S. pig farmers already do a good job there, we now need the export markets to receive that food,” Hora says. “We’re asking the administration to resolve its dispute with China and to drop the U.S. tariff on steel and aluminum imports from Mexico, so Mexico will rescind its duty on U.S. pork.”
Hora urges the negotiation of new trade deals with other countries, such as Japan, who are anxious to maintain their trade relationship with the U.S.