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President Bush to Sign Law Creating Coordinated
Interagency Task Force on Foreign Animal Disease

WASHINGTON, DC — Congress and President Bush have expedited passage of the Mad Cow and Related Disease Prevention Act of 2001, which establishes an interagency task force for preventing foreign animal diseases.

The National Cattlemen’s Beef Association (NCBA) urged the government to develop a strategy for foreign animal disease prevention and management, and worked with Congress and the agencies to develop an effective plan. The original bill (S700), was introduced on April 4, 2001, and passed both Houses of Congress in less than 2 months.

"Our main objective was to ensure a coordinated effort between the government agencies," said Jay Truitt, NCBA executive director of Legislative Affairs. "The U.S. has prevented Bovine Spongiform Encephalopathy (BSE) and Foot and Mouth Disease (FMD) from impacting the health of cattle, but we must remain vigilant if we are to keep U.S. beef free of foreign animal diseases. An interagency task force, with oversight of the Secretary of Agriculture, is another great prevention tool."

The new law requires the Secretary of Agriculture, within 30 days, to report to Congress on coordinated interagency activities; government sources of information on FMD and BSE; and the need for legislative authority, appropriations and/or product bans. Within 180 days, the Secretary must provide information on the economic impact of FMD and BSE; potential risks to public and animal health; recommendations to protect U.S. animals and humans; analysis of effectiveness of current prevention efforts; plans to coordinate prevention and research efforts between government agencies and/or the private sector; plans for compensation for animals infected with BSE or FMD and recommendations for legislation and/or appropriations to prevent FMD, BSE and vCJD.

Truitt added that U.S. cattle producers will continue working to prevent FMD and BSE in the United States. Food safety partnerships and work with the government are important components of the NCBA strategy.

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