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Lack of Funding Forces Closure of Food Supply Safety Program

October 2, 2008

WASHINGTON, Oct. 2 /PRNewswire/ — Despite extensive efforts by America’s veterinarians to convince the US Congress, the US Department of Agriculture, and the Food and Drug Administration to provide long-term funding, a critical food safety resource is permanently shutting down, leaving in the lurch information essential to protecting America’s food supply.

The Food Animal Residue Avoidance Databank (FARAD) — used by veterinarians, livestock producers, and state and federal regulatory and extension specialists to ensure that drug, environmental and pesticide contaminants do not end up in meat, milk, and eggs — began shutting down yesterday. The program needed an immediate cash infusion to stay open, and, ultimately, long-term funding of $2.5 million per year.

The American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA) has been leading efforts to fund FARAD, which is administered by the USDA’s Cooperative State Research, Education, and Extension Service and operates out of North Carolina State University, the University of Florida and the University of California-Davis.

Through lobbying and grassroots efforts, the AVMA worked with Congress to have language authorizing FARAD at $2.5 million inserted in this year’s Farm Bill. The USDA, however, never incorporated the funding in its budget, and Congress has provided neither emergency funding nor appropriations.

“It’s disheartening — even tragic — that a program that costs so little yet does so much to keep our food supply safe is not being funded,” said Dr. Mark Lutschaunig, director of the AVMA’s Government Relations Division. “We’re talking about a cost of less than a penny per American to help keep meat, eggs and dairy products free of drugs and pesticides.”

Lutschaunig said the last-ditch hope of keeping FARAD from completely closing is for the USDA or stakeholders to fund the program. The AVMA is planning an emergency stakeholder meeting to discuss the future of FARAD.

In the interim, Lutschaunig urges all Americans to call the USDA at 1-202-720-1542 and tell them to immediately provide $2.5 million in emergency funding for FARAD.

More information on FARAD can be found on the AVMA’s food safety advocacy web site, http://www.keepourfoodsafe.org/.

The AVMA and its more than 76,000 member veterinarians are engaged in a wide variety of activities dedicated to advancing the science and art of animal, human and public health. Visit the AVMA Web site at http://www.avma.org/ for more information.

American Veterinary Medical Association

CONTACT: Eric McKeeby of American Veterinary Medical Association,+1-202-289-3213, cell, +1-202-641-5186, emckeeby@avma.org

Web site: http://www.avma.org/




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