On March 11, 2021 President Biden signed into law the American Rescue Plan Act of 2021. The Act, one of the COVID-19 stimulus bills, is a multi-faceted plan created to implement a national vaccination program, identify and address emerging strains of COVID-19, safely reopen schools, and provide relief to families bearing the brunt of the COVID-19 crisis, among other activities. The plan cuts across multiple Federal Departments to deliver a comprehensive response and includes funding for USDA to increase families’ access to food, strengthen the food supply chain and agriculture pandemic response, support farmers of color, and restore rural America.
Under the umbrella of USDA activities funded in the legislation, the Secretary of Agriculture has designated APHIS as the lead Agency to develop a plan to conduct monitoring and surveillance of susceptible animal species for incidence of SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19. The Act dedicated $300 million in funding for these efforts.
The strategic framework outlines how the Agency will focus its efforts to prevent, detect, investigate and respond to SARS-CoV-2 in animals, as well as other emerging and zoonotic diseases that could pose a threat to both people and animals. Collectively, the key actions within the Framework will enable USDA to build an early warning system to alert public health partners to take steps sooner to potentially prevent or limit the next zoonotic disease outbreak, or the next global pandemic.
APHIS is hosting a series of webinars to provide more information about the strategic framework and answer any questions you may have. More information about the webinars is available at https://www.aphis.usda.gov/aphis/resources/arp-strategic-framework/webinars
APHIS is accepting public feedback on the framework from Tuesday, August 24, 2021 to Friday, October 8, 2021. Comments may be submitted at https://www.regulations.gov/docket/APHIS-2021-0061