February 15, 2008


 FARAD funding: the long and the short of it

Posted Feb. 1, 2008

On the heels of a year without funding, the Food Animal Residue Avoidance Databank began 2008 with funding for the short term and prospects for the long term.

An online decision support system, FARAD offers information about how to avoid residues of medications and contaminants in food animals. This makes it a valuable resource for veterinarians, livestock producers, and state and federal regulatory and extension specialists. Online and through its hotline, FARAD provides rapid response to inquiries about residue issues affecting food animal health and product contamination.

The program also encompasses a newsletter, academic work developing predictive models and algorithms, veterinary student and resident training in the principles of residue avoidance, and the FARAD Digest in the JAVMA. In trade matters, FARAD assists by maintaining databanks of foreign drug approvals.

Administered through the Department of Agriculture's Cooperative State Research, Education, and Extension Service, the program operates from three locations—North Carolina State University, Raleigh; the University of California-Davis; and the University of Florida, Gainesville.

With funds granted year to year since FARAD was created in 1982, funding has been an ongoing crusade. In 2007, Congress did not fund the program at all, resulting in a suspension of interactive services beginning May 15, with the database preserved.

Recently, CSREES and the Food and Drug Administration's Center for Veterinary Medicine shifted some funds on a short-term basis to keep FARAD going through this June.

The AVMA has been actively advocating for permanent multiyear funding of $2.5 million per year for FARAD. The Senate version of the 2007 Farm Bill includes language authorizing that amount for fiscal years 2008-2012. The House version, however, does not address FARAD. At press time, the two versions of the bill were headed for a conference committee to reconcile their differences. Even if the FARAD provision is retained, appropriation of the funds is not guaranteed.

North Carolina Rep. David Price, a member of the House Appropriations Committee, is a longtime champion of FARAD. The congressman inserted language in another piece of legislation, the FY 2008 Agricultural Appropriations bill, to direct the secretary of agriculture to find a permanent solution to FARAD funding. That bill was signed into law by President Bush on Dec. 26, 2007, as part of the FY 2008 omnibus appropriations bill.

The provision states the following:

"Food safety.—The Committee recognizes the contributions that the Food Animal Residue Avoidance Databank (FARAD) has made toward ensuring the security of the nation's food supply. The Committee is concerned that, although USDA is fully aware of the public reliance on the database and its importance in maintaining food safety, it has continued to rely on Congress to earmark funds for the initiative, neither requesting funding in its annual budget submission nor providing another source for this information, which relates directly to the department's core mission. The Committee directs USDA to report to the Committee on Appropriations in the House and Senate within 45 days of enactment on its long-term plans to maintain the critical function that FARAD has provided in protecting the U.S. livestock industry from accidental or deliberate contamination."