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Another Government Circus comes to Light

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LIVE FROM NATIONAL PORK INDUSTRY FORUM: Former APHIS chief warns of potential animal disease outbreaks

by Pete Hisey on 3/7/05 for Meatingplace.com

ORLANDO, FLA.—Former APHIS chief Dr.Bobby Acor and his successor Dr. Ron DeHaven warned attendees of the National Pork Industry Forum that the United States must take rapid action to protect its livestock herds against potential animal disease outbreaks.

While DeHaven limited his comments to urging pork producers to support rapid deployment of a voluntary national animal identification system, Acor charged that the Bush Administration's reorganization of government agencies has made the nation more vulnerable to foreign diseases.

Claiming that inspection of agricultural goods brought into the United States, a function now administered by the Department of Homeland Security rather than the U.S. Department of Agriculture, has declined in numbers and effectiveness, he said, "We're only one sandwich, one suitcase, one cargo container away from disaster."

Acor endorsed NPPC's resolution to form a new industry/government forum to bring together representatives of all agricultural stakeholders and those of federal and state governments to set policy that will better protect the United States and mitigate the impact of disease outbreaks on U.S. industry.

Acor noted that during outbreaks of bovine spongiform encephalopathy and foot-and-mouth disease in the United Kingdom, few of the millions of animals destroyed were actually infected. Most, he said, were stranded by stop-movement orders and later destroyed when food ran out. The United States, he continued, faces precisely the same threat.

Acor noted that along with USDA and the Food and Drug Administration, agencies as various as the Departments of Transportation, Homeland Security and Commerce all became involved in the December 2003 BSE event in Washington state. "They all thought they were in charge," he said.

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