A new national laboratory for researching and diagnosing foreign animal diseases should be built on the U.S. mainland in an area with small livestock and wildlife populations, says the National Pork Producers Council (NPPC) in congressional testimony recently.

The House Energy and Commerce Subcommittee on Oversight and Investigations held a hearing on a replacement facility for the 54-year-old Plum Island Animal Disease Center located just off the coast of Long Island, NY, where foreign animal disease work is done.

Five sites on the mainland for the new National Bio and Agri-Defense Facility (NBAF) in Georgia, Kansas, Mississippi, North Carolina and Texas are under consideration.

In its testimony, NPPC told the subcommittee that each area should be screened for:

  • Susceptible animal populations that could be exposed to an outbreak should disease organisms escape from the facility;
  • The ability of state and federal governments to quickly control and eradicate a disease;
  • The impact of an outbreak on the local environment and the wildlife population; and
  • The economic consequences to an area’s livestock industry if an outbreak were to occur.

NPPC asked that the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, which oversees Plum Island, coordinate with the livestock industry to define a scope of work for the NBAF.