The Safe American Food Exports Act (SAFE Act) was introduced earlier this week by Reps. Randy Feenstra (R-IA) and Jimmy Panetta (D-CA). It would codify USDA’s role in negotiating regionalization agreements that allow livestock, poultry and other animal products from unaffected areas of the country to continue to be safety exported in the event of an animal disease outbreak.
NARA strongly supports the SAFE Act. Regionalization is a critical tool to protect agriculture exports, and preemptively negotiating regionalization agreements will help minimize market disruptions to disease-free producers in the event of an outbreak such as Highly Pathogenic Avian Influenza (HPAI) or African Swine Fever (ASF). Additionally, this legislation puts regionalization agreements “front-of-mind” with USDA officials. NARA also notes that adding reporting requirements to the bill would be a helpful tool for negotiators to use to prioritize their work and track progress.
Companion legislation was introduced in March by Senators Mike Braun (R-IN), Tina Smith (D-MN), Roger Wicker (R-MS) and Chris Coons (D-DE), for which NARA also voiced their early support.
Of the SAFE Act, NARA’s President and CEO Kent Swisher, said “NARA fully supports this legislation aimed at prioritizing animal disease preparedness in negotiations with our trading partners. We need to pre-act, not react when it comes to finding solutions to keep export markets open."
NARA looks forward to continued collaboration with Congressmen Feenstra and Panetta as well as Senators Braun, Smith, Wicker and Coons to ensure this legislation is enacted so unnecessary market closures can be avoided.