AGRIBUSINESS: GAO Offers Recommendations On Disease Surveillance Strategy

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A new Government Accountability Office report looks at the federal government’s efforts to conduct surveillance activities for animal diseases in livestock and wildlife.

More specifically - it examines USDA’s new approach to disease surveillance in livestock and poultry and the extent to which the approach is guided by a strategy with measurable goals and supports broader national bio-surveillance efforts.

USDA’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service started shifting from a disease-by-disease surveillance approach to one that monitors the overall health of livestock and poultry last year. The GAO report finds APHIS faces several challenges in carrying out this new approach - including obtaining new data from current and additional sources and determining how best to deploy declining resources given increasing fiscal constraints.

The GAO also found that APHIS may not be ideally positioned to support national efforts to address the next threat to animal and human health if its vision isn’t integrated into an overall strategy with goals and measures that are aligned with broader national homeland security efforts to detect biological threats.