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Thursday, March 4th, 2021

Blue Ribbon panel lauds Congress for passage of farm bill with provisions to protect food supply

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The Farm Bill, which was signed into law by President Donald Trump last week, includes recommendations proposed by the Blue Ribbon Study Panel on Biodefense to protect the nation’s food and agriculture sector from biological attacks and outbreaks.

Among the provisions in the Agricultural Improvement Act of 2018 (H.R. 2), also known as the Farm Bill, are the establishment of a National Animal Disease Preparedness and Response Program. The bill also calls for the creation of a National Animal Vaccine and Veterinary Counter-Measures Bank. There is also increased funding for the stockpiling of animal medical countermeasures. Further, the farm bill authorizes increased funding levels for the National Animal Health Laboratory Network.

“Emerging and reemerging animal diseases are increasing at an alarming rate. These, along with threats and attempts by those with nefarious intent to attack food and agriculture, point to the need to reduce the biological risk to this sector immediately,” former Senate Majority Leader and Blue Ribbon Study Panel member Tom Daschle said.

The Blue Ribbon Study Panel on Biodefense was established in 2014 to assess the state of U.S. biodefense efforts, issue recommendations, and foster change. The panel consists of former U.S. Connecticut Sen. Joe Lieberman, former Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Ridge, former Secretary of Health and Human Services Donna Shalala, former U.S. Rep. Jim Greenwood, former Homeland Security Advisor Ken Wainstein, and Daschle.

“Our panel is pleased to see several of our recommendations included in this year’s Farm Bill. They are central to ensuring the security of one of the largest sectors of the U.S. economy,” Wainstein said.

The panel cited the leadership of Sens. Pat Roberts (R-KS) and Ranking Member Debbie Stabenow (D-MI) of the U.S. Senate Committee on Agriculture, Nutrition and Forestry for including these measures in the bill. They also thanked Reps. Michael Conway (R-TX) and Collin Peterson (D-MN), chair and ranking member of the U.S. House Committee on Agriculture.