A new bill which will support the National Animal Health Laboratory Network (NAHLN) has been introduced by Colorado U.S. Senator Michael Bennet (D-Colo.), and will assist NAHLN in monitoring animal-borne illness that can threaten animal and public health. Bennet will urge the Senate Agriculture Committee to include the Animal and Public health Protection Act, S. 859, in the 2013 Farm Bill.

Bill supports NAHLN and disease surveillanceNAHLN is a cooperative effort between the Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) and the National Institute of Food and Agriculture (NIFA) and the American Association of Veterinary Laboratory Diagnosticians (AAVLD). NAHLN is a multifaceted network comprised of sets of laboratories that focus on different diseases that can protect human health by decreasing the risk of zoonotic disease, and protect animal health to decrease environmental risk and negative impact to producers.

NAHLN funding has been in jeopardy the last few years. In 2011 it experienced a 39% funding reduction. The U.S. Animal Health Association encouraged a Senate appropriations subcommittee in 2011 to continue to fund NAHLN in the FY2012 agriculture appropriations bill. “The NAHLN is our nation’s early warning system guarding against emerging and foreign animal diseases,” USAHA leadership said at that time.

In a press release this week from the American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA), AVMA CEO Ron DeHaven, DVM, said, “The American Veterinary Medical Association strongly supports the Animal and Public Health Protection Act. A robust NAHLN will help control any potential catastrophic disease outbreak, limit the spread of disease and, as a result, limit the diseases’ impact on public health, animal suffering, interruption of the food supply, and help ensure the financial health of livestock and related industries. The AVMA has long prioritized the NAHLN in its advocacy efforts concerning the Farm Bill and annual appropriations.”