What would you do with a hundred or a thousand cows exposed to a chemical contamination? Wisely, you would contact the Food Animal Residue Avoidance Databank, a computer-based decision support system administered by the Department of Agriculture's Cooperative State Research, Education, and Extension Service.
FARAD maintains a computerized collection of current label information, including withdrawal times of all drugs approved for U.S. food animals. In addition, the U.S. Pharmacopeia-Drug Information Veterinary Medicine Advisory Committee has sanctioned FARAD to provide those estimates.
Despite the ways in which FARAD protects public health by contributing to a safe food supply, permanent federal funding has never been achieved. Although the Agriculture Research, Extension, and Education Reform Act of 1998 recommended annual appropriations of $1 million for FARAD, Congress has funded the databank on a year-to-year basis at less than the authorized level.
Since its inception in 1982, the databank has provided guidance to livestock producers, extension specialists, and veterinarians to ensure that foods of animal origin are free of drug, pesticide, and environmental contaminant residues.
FARAD personnel at the University of California-Davis and the University of Florida research a database of some 5,000 scientific articles containing residue avoidance data for useful information. Residue experts then review the data for accuracy and consistency. At North Carolina State University, FARAD personnel conduct additional analysis for novel ways the data may be used to prevent residue problems.
On numerous occasions, FARAD has been called on to provide critical technical support, such as during the 1998-1999 botulism outbreak among California dairy cattle that resulted in some 600 cow deaths and millions of dollars of contaminated product. Following the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, FARAD supplied the state of California with information regarding anthrax vaccination of dairy cattle and related milk safety.
The AVMA has long supported working with the USDA and Congress to secure continued and increased funding for the database. Recently, the AVMA Governmental Relations Division in Washington, D.C., devised a plan toward that end. The plan entails working with the Animal Agriculture Coalition, which has formed a subcommittee to strategize ways of obtaining permanent funding for FARAD. Also, requests for permanent funding will be made of members of Congress and policy makers in the USDA.
AVMA members can help by contacting their congressperson and requesting that they support the AVMA's effort to secure permanent funding for FARAD. Questions about FARAD may be directed to Dr. Gerald Rushin, assistant director of the AVMA Governmental Relations Division, at (800) 321-1473, Ext. 3207, or firstname.lastname@example.org.