Weekly livestock news: May 28, 2024

Officials consider developing H5N1 vaccine for cows

The USDA has issued a request for information from companies that have the capability to develop and produce cow vaccines against H5N1. The American Association of Bovine Practitioners recently held closed-door presentations from several potential vaccine makers. But companies must weigh several factors before jumping in. Strict rules around research with H5N1 and other highly pathogenic type A avian influenza viruses slow down the development of vaccines. The market could vanish if the outbreak peters out or is brought under control by ramping up biosecurity efforts, such as improving hygiene in dairy parlors. Also unclear is whether the USDA will even allow the use of vaccination, which might complicate exportation of dairy products, Science reports.

Second human case of bird flu confirmed in Michigan

A second person in the United States has been infected with bird flu, ABC News reports, citing health officials. The case was identified in a Michigan farmworker who had regular exposure to livestock-infected avian influenza, the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services said. The CDC said the Michigan dairy worker was being monitored because of their work exposure to infected cattle and reported symptoms to local health officials. MDHHS said the farm worker has since recovered. Officials say the risk to the general public remains low.

As farm animals cross state lines, risk of pathogen spread rises

Live animal transport is essential to industrial animal agriculture, which has become increasingly specialized. But as tens of millions of farm animals cross state lines every year, cramped travel conditions can facilitate the spread of disease. “The movement can contribute to long-distance transport of pathogens and make outbreaks, and the management of outbreaks, challenging,” said Colleen Webb, an expert on livestock epidemiology at Colorado State University. Bigger, longer-lasting livestock outbreaks can increase the odds that people come into contact with infected animals or contaminated food products and create more opportunities for pathogens to evolve, The New York Times reports.

Bovine, equine groups create veterinary technician guidelines

The American Association of Bovine Practitioners and the American Association of Equine Veterinary Technicians and Assistants have developed their own guidelines for leveraging the skills of veterinary technicians, the AVMA reports. The documents outline specific responsibilities and different levels of veterinary supervision for credentialed veterinary technicians in their areas of practice. “There is a lack of knowledge of what a trained, credentialed veterinary technician actually is, as well as what they are educated to do in school,” said Travis Otremba, president of AAEVT and a certified veterinary technician at Ocala Equine Hospital in Ocala, Florida. “These guidelines shed some light and educate doctors and practice owners and managers how to utilize their technicians more effectively and thus potentially increase production significantly.”

U.S. House farm bill proposal faces slim Senate odds

The U.S. House Agriculture Committee released a long-awaited farm bill draft that includes provisions to reduce spending on food aid for the poor and efforts to help farmers fight climate change, Reuters reports. Congress faces steep odds to pass a farm bill this session as the Republican-controlled House and Democratic-majority Senate remain far apart. The bill is expected to cost $1.5 trillion over 10 years. It would cut spending on the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, which funds food benefits for low-income families, by $27 billion over 10 years, a committee aide said. The savings would be gained by restricting the USDA’s authority to update the cost of a sample grocery budget that underlies the benefit calculation. Benefits would continue to rise with inflation, a committee aide said.

Agricultural groups press Congress for ‘federal fix’ to Proposition 12

More than 900 agricultural groups joined a coalition asking Congress to implement a “federal fix” to California’s Proposition 12, Meat + Poultry reports. The effort is led by the National Pork Producers Council and the American Farm Bureau Federation. According to the letter sent May 21 to House Agriculture Committee Chair G.T. Thompson and Ranking Member David Scott, the law and a subsequent Supreme Court ruling that allowed it to stand “are causing turmoil in agricultural markets and having significant detrimental impacts on our members’ farms and ranches, especially small and medium-sized farms.”