WASHINGTON –U.S. Senators Amy Klobuchar and Tina Smith announced that they have secured $180,000 in grant funding from the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) for disease preparedness and response activities in Minnesota. The Minnesota Department of Agriculture will receive $133,000 and the University of Minnesota will receive $47,000.
“This critical funding will ensure that the Minnesota Department of Agriculture and University of Minnesota will be able to continue their work researching and protecting U.S. animal health,” Klobuchar said. “Animal disease preparedness is an important part of ensuring that Minnesota’s farmers and ranchers can respond quickly to a potential disease outbreak. This funding will support our farmers and gives them the tools they need to succeed.”
“When Minnesota was hit by an avian flu outbreak a few years back, it took a real toll on the ag economy,”said Sen. Smith, a member of the Senate Agriculture Committee. “Since then, I’ve heard Minnesota livestock producers and veterinarians talk about the importance of preparing for and preventing future animal disease outbreaks. This funding will help us reach that goal. But our work shouldn’t stop there. We need to adopt a ‘One Health’ approach—the idea that human and animal health are linked, and that they should be studied together to prevent and respond to disease outbreaks. I’m making a bipartisan push to advance this idea in the Senate so preparedness efforts meet the needs of all people, all ages, and all communities.”
Klobuchar’s bipartisan legislation – the Animal Disease and Disaster Prevention, Surveillance, and Rapid Response Act of 2018 – was included in the 2018 Farm Bill and established the National Animal Disease Preparedness and Response Program (NADPRP) and expanded the National Animal Health Laboratory Network (NAHLN). These programs support disease prevention and emergency response training and exercise projects as well as targeted projects to enhance laboratory diagnostic capability. The Minnesota Department of Agriculture will use its funding for Swine Cold Weather Depopulation and Disposal Training and Exercise. The University of Minnesota funding will be utilized for validation of alternative samples for the diagnosis and surveillance of African swine fever.
As a senior member of the Senate Agriculture Committee, Klobuchar successfully pushed for key provisions in the 2018 Farm Bill – including provisions to create an animal disease vaccine bank and disaster response program, provide more coverage and more flexible tools for dairy producers, and protect the Rural Energy for America Program (REAP) funding.
Smith’s bipartisan legislation—The Advancing Emergency Preparedness Through One Health Act—would improve coordination among those studying animal and human health by requiring the Department of Health and Human Services and the Agriculture Department to adopt a One Health framework with other agencies. And in December 2019, Sen. Smith’s bipartisan legislation—the Kay Hagan Tick Act—was signed into law. This law fosters interagency collaboration to prevent and contain tick borne illness in humans and livestock.
Smith took a leading role to make sure Minnesota priorities were included in the 2018 Farm Bill, which includes many of her measures. It includes her legislative roadmap for the energy title of the Farm Bill, her provision to expand access to broadband in rural communities and tribal areas across the country, and a provision to create a U.S. Department of Agriculture “Rural Health Liaison” who will work with other federal health officials to address rural America’s unique health care needs. The bill also funds Sen. Smith’s efforts to help younger and non-traditional farmers get started in the business, and it responds to her call to preserve the Sugar Program which supports thousands of jobs across the Red River Valley in Northwest Minnesota.