"We remain committed to protecting public health and the safety of our food supply," Veneman said during remarks to the 2004 Cattle Industry Annual Convention and Trade Show in Phoenix.

The secretary said $47 million will fund enhanced prevention activities including increased testing, monitoring and surveillance for BSE. They are in addition to the $178 million already announced for completion of the National Centers for Animal Health renovation.

Veneman announced aggressive actions on Dec. 30, 2003 to further enhance the U.S. safeguards already in place to prevent BSE from entering the food supply.

The actions, announced one week after the Dec. 23, 2003 confirmation that a cow in Washington state had tested positive for BSE, include: 1) the prohibition of non-ambulatory animals from the human food supply; 2) further restrictions of specified risk materials in the food supply; 3) requiring additional process controls for establishments using advanced meat recovery (AMR) systems; and 4) holding meat from cattle that have been tested for BSE until the test results are received, and they are negative

The administration will request a total of $60 million for BSE related activities; a $47 million or 377 percent increase over FY 2004. The total requested includes:

  • $33 million to further accelerate the development of a national animal identification system;
  • $17 million for the Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) to collect 40,000 samples and tests for BSE at rendering plants and on farms;
  • $5 million for the Agricultural Research Service (ARS) to conduct advanced research and development of BSE testing technologies;
  • $4 million for the Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) to conduct monitoring and surveillance of compliance with the regulations for specified risk materials and advance meat recovery; and
  • $1 million for the Grain Inspection, Packers and Stockyards Administration (GIPSA) to dispatch rapid response teams to markets experiencing BSE related complaints regarding contracts or lack of prompt payment.
Veneman also said the Administration is considering a proposal to transfer emergency funds from the Commodity Credit Corp. to help finance these activities for FY 2004, including the implementation for the a national animal identification program.

USDA transferred $10.5 million from the CCC last fall to APHIS to double the testing for BSE in cattle from 20,000 to 40,000 in FY 2004.

A crucial part of USDA's BSE response is research and diagnostics. On Jan. 13, Veneman announced that the President's FY05 budget would also include $178 million to complete the renovation of USDA's new National Centers for Animal Health. The Centers, located in Ames, Iowa, is USDA's flagship laboratory for large animal research and diagnosis.

The National Veterinary Services Laboratory, which is part of the National Center for Animal Health, diagnosed the case of BSE found in Washington state. The President's request would represent the final installment of the $460 million needed to fully renovate the facilities and if approved by Congress will permit USDA to complete the project by the end of 2007.

For more information on BSE, visit www.usda.gov/.

e-mail: flaws@primediabusiness.com