Technicians at the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA)'s Center for Veterinary Biologics (CVB) were reinstated on October 8 by U.S. Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack, easing fears that there would soon be inadequate supplies of poultry and livestock vaccines. The workers, responsible for verifying animal vaccines, were initially deemed non-essential U.S. government employees and were furloughed October 1 during the government shutdown.
Shortly following the furloughs, poultry groups and animal health organizations contacted USDA and congressional officials, expressing their concern about the possibility of stalled vaccine delivery as a result of the government shutdown. While the government initially said it would reassess the situation in 14 days, the poultry organizations stressed that two weeks of stalled vaccine delivery would directly impact food safety, animal health and bio-security. The groups called on congressional officials to appropriate funding immediately to the CVB.
"I would like to express my gratitude to Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack for his thoughtful action in reopening the USDA's Center for Veterinary Biologics, an essential program that helps keep both food animals and the public healthy," said Dr. Ron DeHaven, the American Veterinary Medical Association's CEO. "We always emphasize that healthy food starts with healthy animals and allowing veterinarians to have access to critical vaccines is an important preventive measure that must continue even in the midst of the federal government shutdown. I applaud Secretary Vilsack for re-evaluating the merits of this program and having the foresight to appreciate its importance to ensuring a safe and affordable food supply for Americans."
The U.S. Poultry & Egg Association, National Chicken Council and National Turkey Federation also applauded the decision, with organization presidents, John Starkey, Mike Brown and Joel Brandenberger, issuing this joint statement: "We would like to express our gratitude to the House Agriculture Committee, USDA, APHIS, the administration, and the many congressional officials who helped in making sure there are no interruptions at CVB in dispensing vaccines during the government shutdown."