Rep. Tracey Mann (KS-01), Chairman of the Livestock, Dairy, and Poultry Subcommittee, delivered the following opening remarks at today's subcommittee hearing entitled, "A Review of USDA Animal Disease Prevention and Response Efforts."
Remarks as prepared for delivery:
“It is an honor to chair this first hearing of the House Agriculture Committee’s Subcommittee on Livestock, Dairy, and Poultry in the 118th Congress. As a fifth generation Kansan having grown up on my family farm, I rode pens and doctored thousands of sick cattle at our preconditioning feedlot. I understand the grit, tenacity, and courage that it takes to make a living in agriculture, and the burden of responsibility for feeding the world that comes along with it.
“Chairing this subcommittee is a unique honor for me as I represent the Big First, where producers sell $10 billion worth of livestock, dairy, poultry, and products like beef, milk, and eggs every year—more than any other Congressional district.
“That does not happen in a vacuum. It takes the entire animal agriculture chain to make that happen – and we see it all in the Big First. From the producer to the feedlot and from the harvest facility to the distributor, every role is important in delivering protein to the market and to the consumer.
“Back in 1915—and I have a button from their convention that year—the Kansas Livestock Association was here on Capitol Hill advocating for producers around the exact same issues that we’re looking at today—packers, stockyards, and animal health. Foot-and-mouth disease was wreaking havoc at the time, and Kansas producers stepped up to the plate to make a difference and fix problems.
“And here we are today—more than 100 years later—holding a hearing, to review USDA animal disease prevention and response efforts. Today’s hearing is particularly timely as we are in the middle of the most devastating high path avian influenza outbreak on record, and African Swine Fever in the Dominican Republic and Haiti is getting dangerously close to our shores. Animal health issues don’t always get the attention they deserve, but as we have seen with past animal disease outbreaks, their enormous economic consequences extend well beyond the animal industry.
“The new Farm Bill must continue to address these risks to animal health while bolstering the long-term ability of U.S. animal agriculture to be competitive in the global marketplace and provide consumers around the world safe, wholesome, affordable food produced in a sustainable manner.
“Industry stakeholders and Congressional leaders had the foresight to establish a three-tiered animal disease program with mandatory funding to ensure the sufficient development and timely deployment of all measures necessary to prevent, identify, and mitigate the catastrophic impacts that an animal disease outbreak would have on our country’s food security, export markets, and overall economic stability. As we work to craft the next Farm Bill, we must have a comprehensive understanding of how these programs have been implemented. We look forward to feedback on the lessons learned—what’s working, what should be reconsidered, and where additional investment may be required.”