Iowa Ag Secretary Bill Northey is asking the governor and legislators for more money to prepare a statewide plan for responding to a major animal disease outbreak.
Lawmakers set aside $100,000 this past spring for the effort, but Northey is recommending the state spend another $150,000.
“For foreign animal disease preparation,” Northey says, “so this is some staffing that helps us work with the farm organizations that are working with their producers on biosecurity.”
The state’s poultry industry was hit a couple of years ago by a bird flu outbreak. Northey says after his department got the $100,000 budget in July, it has started drafting a response plan for another outbreak of avian influenza or some other animal disease.
“The one we all worry about is foot-and-mouth disease,” Northey says. “That would be a huge impact.”
Foot-and-mouth disease is a highly contagious virus that strikes animals with divided or “cloven” hooves. The concern is primarily about cattle and swine because they’re raised in close quarters, although sheep, goats and deer can be infected as well. There hasn’t been an outbreak of foot-and-mouth disease in the U.S. since 1929.
Northey spoke in the governor’s office today as he presented his budget plan for the Iowa Department of Agriculture. Northey’s been nominated for a job in the U.S.D.A., but the U.S. Senate hasn’t voted to confirm him for the job. Texas Senator Ted Cruz is blocking the vote on Northey’s nomination in protest over the EPA’s pro-ethanol moves.