The National Milk Producers Federation endorsed a draft plan for allowing the U.S. and Canada to cope with an outbreak of a serious foreign animal contagion, such as foot-and-mouth disease, suggesting the plan is a template for similar plans involving other important dairy export markets.
The plan, drafted by the Agriculture Department's Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service, calls for the United States and Canada to recognize each other's efforts to control an outbreak, while regionalizing how the outbreak is handled, so as to allow continued trade with disease-free areas of the country.
In comments filed with APHIS Monday, NMPF, the voice of 32,000 dairy farmers in Washington, noted that Canada is the second-largest export market for U.S. dairy products, and that an outbreak of a highly contagious animal disease such as FMD in either country could be catastrophic for the U.S. dairy industry.
"We applaud the Agriculture Department for working with its Canadian counterparts to prepare for a foreign animal disease outbreak," said Jamie Jonker, NMPF's vice president for sustainability and scientific affairs. "We fully support the draft plan and see it as an effective tool for dealing with an outbreak."
The plan, officially termed a framework, calls for the two countries to cooperate in establishing quarantine areas that would be the focus of disease eradication efforts in an outbreak. Trade could then resume or continue in areas considered free of disease.
"The framework will facilitate continued trade between disease-free areas, while safeguarding animal health in both countries," Jonker said. "NMPF encourages USDA to use this approach as a template for other countries that are important U.S. dairy export markets." These countries include Mexico, China, Philippines, Indonesia, South Korea and Japan.
This is in contrast to another USDA proposal earlier this year, which NMPF determined had significant flaws because it will allow imports of fresh beef from certain parts of Brazil that have a history of foot-and-mouth disease.
"We are happy to have Brazil export its enthusiasm for soccer," Jonker said, "but the last thing we need is for that country to send us its FMD problems."
Over the last decade, U.S. dairy exports have increased more than 20 percent annually, and the United States is now a global leader in exports for products including cheese, skim milk powder, whey products and lactose.