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FARAD future in question

Omnibus bill could provide funding this year, but permanent source needed
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Feb 01, 2009

WASHINGTON — As the Food Animal Residue Avoidance Databank (FARAD) continues to struggle, operating with a bare-bones staff and answering only calls and e-mails, Washington insiders hope for a reprieve.

And it just may come in the form of an omnibus financing bill.

Because Congress did not pass the 2009 budget before adjourning last year, the budget for all government entities for the first six months of 2009 will be at the same level as 2008.

"Talk around town is for an omnibus for the rest of the year," says Mark Lutschaunig, director of the American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA) Governmental Relations Division (GRD).

If that happens, a portion of the $400,000 approved in Agriculture Appropriations for fiscal year 2009 by the House and the $800,000 approved by the Senate could be infused into FARAD, a databank used by veterinarians, livestock producers and others to ensure that drug, environmental and pesticide contaminants don't end up in meat, milk and eggs.

The cash-strapped FARAD was all but shuttered last year until last-minute emergency funding trickled in.

It received $125,000 in bridge funding at the end of 2008 from the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) and the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), as well as contributions from various veterinary associations, which should carry it through May or June, according to Lutschaunig.

Along with the government funding, FARAD received $5,000 each from the AVMA and the American Association of Small Ruminant Practitioners (AASRP). The American Association of Bovine Practitioners (AABP) contributed $2,500.

The American Society of Animal Science (ASAS) put in $500 and the National Saanen Breeders Association (NSBA) and the American Association of Food Health Veterinarians (AAFHV) each contributed $100. Still, it's a far cry from the $2.5 million needed.

The GRD seeks a permanent home for FARAD that would ensure long-term funding, Lutschaunig says.

"With the new administration in place, we're hoping to get in and talk to folks to get it funded in the administrative budget," he says.