Halstrom: USDA Disease Funding Can Improve Trade

There has been much discussion during this farm bill cycle about the need to update MAP and FMD spending levels for commodity programs, including for the U.S. Meat Export Federation efforts to promote beef and pork exports. USMEF President and CEO Dan Halstrom said additional funding would be put to work right away.

“I think the potential is huge with additional investment. You’re referring to MAP and FMD, the efforts to try to increase the level of funding in the next farm bill. As it looks right now, the Farm Bill has been kicked down the road with a continuing resolution for another year, which is good news in the fact that we got at appropriate, but every time you do that, due to sequestration, a few other things, the total overall budget that’s allocated is a little bit less every year.” 

Halstrom says id a new program that is being rolled out, the Regional Agriculture Promotion Program, or RAPP.

“It’s a different part of FAS, but similar concept, and what you can use it for is MAP and FMD, and we’re excited about that. It can increase our presence of the industry globally, whether it’s beef or pork, we can go into some newer regions of the world like I mentioned, Indonesia, Malaysia, these are spots that we’re looking to get more aggressive in, not to mention Africa. So yeah, there’s a lot of potential benefit down the road if we were able to get some of that additional funding.” 

Halstrom also discussed why disease traceability methods in the U.S. provide a marketing opportunity for exploring different countries.

“It’s a missed opportunity today, if we had a more robust system. The real concern comes if there’s some sort of animal health crisis. If there’s a temporary issue like we had with BSE where you’re not in the market, if we had a more robust system, or at least the parts of the system that are effective, we’ll be the first ones to return to trade. So, that’s the crisis management side it has to be taken into consideration.” 

Trading partners are interested in more disease traceability, Halstrom says, as prepping now is better than prepping after a crisis.