The furlough of technicians at the U.S. Department of Agriculture's Center for Veterinary Biologics (CVB) can have grave effects on the poultry industry as new batches of vaccines cannot be released for distribution, members of poultry trade groups say. To help get the technicians responsible for authorizing the release of vaccines, the National Chicken Council, National Turkey Federation and U.S. Poultry and Egg Association have written letters to members of Congress, urging them to stop the furloughs.
While the federal government has said the CVB furloughs will be re-evaluated in another 14 days, the three groups do not believe that will be soon enough.
"Two weeks of stalled vaccine delivery will directly impact food safety, animal health and bio-security," the letter read. "The animal health industry cannot wait that long. Because producers hold limited supply of these vaccines, many of the large poultry, swine and cattle companies will be out of critical vaccine in a matter of days. Once they run out, they will be faced with tough decisions including: not vaccinating their flocks or herds and shutting down production and furloughing their own employees.
"Animal health vaccine release is an essential activity. With the far-ranging impact on food safety, human health and animal health, we are seriously concerned about the disregard of this fundamental understanding. We ask that appropriate funding be allocated immediately, so there are no interruptions at CVB. We need these employees back on the job as soon as possible."
The letter was signed by NCC President Mike Brown, NTF President Joel Brandenberger and USPOULTRY President John Starkey. Copies of the letter were sent to House Agriculture Committee Chairman Frank Lucas, R-Okla., as well as Sen. Tom Harkin, D-Iowa; Sen. Lamar Alexander, R-Tenn.; Rep. Fred Upton, R-Mich.; and Rep. Henry Waxman, D-Calif.
Sen. Chris Coons, D-Del., has already expressed his views supporting reinstating CVB technicians to members of the NCC during the organization's annual conference. A related video can be seen on WATTAgNet.