Soy Growers Urge Solution to Vaccine Shortage for Livestock Industry

Jul 02, 2015

The American Soybean Association (ASA) and several other agriculture organizations last week urged the Senate Committee on Agriculture, to quickly find a solution for a vaccine shortage that could have devastating effects on the United States livestock community.

There isn’t enough Foot and Mouth Disease (FMD) vaccine available to handle an outbreak beyond a very small localized event within the livestock community. The livestock industry represents the largest consumer of domestically produced soybean meal and ASA is committed to protecting and working with them.

In a letter addressed to Sen. Pat Roberts, chairman of the committee, the groups express concern over the vulnerable positon of the U.S. livestock industry considering the shortage.

“The current vaccine bank arrangement has several problems. The turnaround time from the onset of an outbreak until finished vaccine is delivered to the field can take weeks for even a small number of doses and months for the number of doses needed in a large outbreak,” the letter states. “Also alarming is vaccine production capacity for approved manufactures is limited world-wide and there is no surge capacity available to produce the millions of doses needed in the event of a large scale outbreak in the U.S.”

The groups also noted concerns about the limited number of antigen strains maintained at Plum Island, Ny. facility and the limited shelf life  of the antigen concentrate that affects the potency of the finished vaccine.

The livestock industry has requested that the United Stated Department of Agricultre (USDA) Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) proceed with several steps to ensure sufficient supply of the vaccine, including requesting funds through the President’s budget.

“Although APHIS appears to be sympathetic to our concerns they have yet to act on any of our requests,” the groups state in the letter. “We hope that you and the Senate Committee on Agriculture, Nutrition and Forestry will take this issue up with APHIS so corrective action can be taken before an FMD outbreak occurs.  We are all well aware of the current devastation to the poultry industry due to High Path Avian Influenza.  An FMD outbreak in the U.S. would be magnitudes higher, especially with a shortage of vaccine to combat the disease.”

Click here to read the entire letter.