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The Economics of Animal Health Concerns



The American Agricultural Economics Association, Farm Foundation, and ERS will co-host a November 2001 forum on animal agriculture, international trade and food safety. This conference will bring together policy makers, industry representatives, researchers and educators to assess options and strategies for animal disease management in a global economy. The goals are to:

  • Assess consumer attitudes and concerns about animal disease and related food safety issues.
  • Review economic impacts of potential major outbreak incidents in the United States.
  • Examine how the increase in trade of animal and animal products has changed the context for managing animal disease risks.
  • Explore a range of policy approaches, their technological feasibility and potential economic costs.

In recent months, the public's attention has been drawn to animal agriculture, both in the United States and globally. The European outbreaks of hoof and mouth disease and BSE or "Mad Cow Disease" have impacted trade and industry activities worldwide. In the United States, concerns about bacteria in meat introduced through processing or the conditions in which animals are raised regularly in the press.

Issues surrounding animal agriculture and food safety are increasingly global in nature, and international trade can be affected. Consumers benefit from more diverse meat products and lower costs, and producers benefit from access to new and expanding markets. With the increased globalization of world meat markets, controlling the risk of spreading animal diseases has become a greater priority and presents new challenges to animal disease management. Meanwhile, knowledge of animal disease and disease management has increased greatly. Response times have decreased markedly and international entities have begun to offer possibilities for global collaboration in knowledge sharing and disease management. The attitudes of consumers, the information or misinformation distributed by the media and the potential for catastrophic impacts in any segment of animal agriculture will shape the industry's future.

Interaction between government agencies, industry leaders and academics involved in the animal food system are key to sharing current information and research results to address public concerns. Economic impacts on international trade and potential loss of consumer confidence on producers, manufacturers, retailers and consumers need attention.





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