FARAD receives $800,000 in appropriation funds
Washington-As Congress embarks on its pre-Sept. 11 legislative agenda, proponents of FARAD celebrate a recent $800,000 funding measure - the largest award in the program's 18-year history.
Monies for the Food Animal Residue Avoidance Databank come as part of a $75.9 billion agriculture appropriations package for 2002.
FARAD, a computer-based decision support system backed by the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA), is designed to provide livestock producers and veterinarians with information on how to avoid drug, pesticide and environmental contaminant problems in food animals. The database provides information on which drugs legally can be used in food animals and helps ensure that producers are in compliance with Food and Drug Administration (FDA) regulations.
The program likely was saved by lawmakers scrambling to address security and antiterrorism defense measures as cutbacks had all but shut down the food safety operation, says Dr. Niall Finnegan, director of AVMA's Governmental Relations Division.
"We're really excited about all this," he says. "The program was severely neglected for years."
Million dollar moves
Also included within the agriculture appropriations bill is $40 million for the first phase of facility consolidation and modernization of the National Veterinary Services Laboratory, the National Animal Disease Center and the Center for Veterinary Biologics in Ames, Iowa.
More than $15,000 in the bill was designated for the Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) Animal Care program.
Now under congressional review
Highlights of legislation currently under consideration include the Farm Bill, which passed as House Bill 2646 but was pulled by Senate Majority Leader Tom Daschle in December due to a stalemate on farm subsidies. The Senate is expected to continue debating the measure this month, but lobbyists say they aren't optimistic about its passage.
Proponents want a farm bill enacted to guarantee that $73 billion in new funding is set aside for agriculture over the next decade. As written, the bill also bans the interstate movement of birds for the purpose of fighting. The anti-cockfighting language comes from legislation sponsored by Sen. Wayne Allard, a Colorado veterinarian.
Legislation scheduled for session two
The 107th Congress will consider in the coming months the Animal Health Protection Act, a bill to consolidate animal quarantine and related laws, some of which date back to the 1800s.
The bill also enables the secretary of agriculture, through APHIS, to perform duties necessary to protect the U.S. food animal supply from foreign pests and diseases.
· The Veterinary Health Enhancement Act provides debt assistance or scholarship programs to veterinary students agreeing to work post-graduation in DVM-deficient locations. In response to recent bioterrorism threats, the bill's sponsors recognize the need for disease surveillance in veterinarian-needy areas.
· The Minor Use and Minor Species Animal Health Act of 2001 provides incentives for drug companies to develop FDA-authorized drugs for uncommon animal disease conditions in major species and for conditions in minor species where therapies are unavailable.
· Reinstating the Star Rank for the Chief of the Army Veterinary Corps is a bill introduced by Allard and lobbied for by the AVMA's Niall Finnegan. If passed, it would dedicate a military star distributed by the U.S. Army Surgeon General to the chief of the U.S. Army Veterinary Corps.