From Bob Fox SACRAMENTO, Calif. (Sept. 27, 2012) -- Last Wednesday, John Zamrzla and I attended a meeting with the Department of Food and Agriculture’s Animal Health and Food Safety Services Division, (CAHFS) as representatives of the Equine industry. There were also representatives of the beef cattle, dairy, poultry, sheep, and pork industries. In addition, CVMA was represented, along with a number of staff people from the Department and the Lab system.
The purpose of the meeting was to hear a presentation by the State Veterinarian, Annette Jones (formerly Annette Whiteford) and Dr. Richard Breitmeyer, Director of the Animal Health and Food Safety Laboratory, on the status of the division’s and laboratory system’s budget and what they expect next year.
They painted a pretty bleak picture and provided some figures on the current status and the trends. They will hold follow up meetings and will be asking for input on how to address the anticipated shortage of revenue. John and I were asked to serve on a subcommittee to represent the horse segment of the livestock industry.
Dr Kent Fowler, the Director of the Animal Health Branch was also in attendance and he is going to send me the charts that were used for the power point presentation. When I receive them, I will provide additional information to you.
One encouraging development was the statement by Dr. Jones that more emphasis is being placed on the issues facing the equine industry, particularly with regard to the concerns with foreign and domestic animal diseases such as EHV-1. The major concern is whether or not the Department can respond to disease outbreaks quickly and effectively with the probability of significant budget cuts.
Here are a few quick figures that were presented to us
The staff emphasized that it is critical to maintain the current labs in Davis, San Bernardino, Tulare, and Turlock. At this point discussions are taking place regarding the possible closure of the Turlock lab and the Tulare Toxicology section.
As most of you know, I spent 4 years as the Director of, what was then known as the Division of Animal Industry, and I have never seen the threats that the livestock industry could be facing with regard to effective surveillance, and the Department’s ability to rapidly respond to an outbreak of a serious animal disease, such as Foot and Mouth Disease, Newcastle Disease, or Equine Herpes.
As we get more information, I’ll pass it on and I’ll be asking for input as additional meetings are scheduled.