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Thompson, Vela, Joyce, Cuellar Introduce Bipartisan Bill to Combat Chronic Wasting Disease

April 5, 2019
Press Release
Bill would increase research to tackle disease threatening cervid populations

WASHINGTON –This week, U.S. Representatives Glenn ‘GT’ Thompson (PA-15), Filemon Vela (TX-34), John Joyce (PA-13), and Henry Cuellar (TX-28) introduced H.R. 2081, the Chronic Wasting Disease Research Act, a bipartisan bill that would increase research for a fatal brain disease that is decimating deer, elk and moose herds across the country.

If passed, the measure would authorize $15 million for critical Chronic Wasting Disease (CWD) research under the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA). CWD is a fatal and contagious neurological disorder that causes brain damage in cervids, mammals of the deer family. As the disease spreads, infected animals exhibit changes in behavior and appearance, including significant weight loss, stumbling and lack of coordination.

Because no cure or vaccine exists for CWD, the legislation specifically supports research to find such treatments. In an effort to help combat this progressive disease, the proposal encourages participation with land grant universities, state departments of agriculture and eligible research facilities.

“Chronic wasting disease is devastating deer, elk and moose populations in Pennsylvania and other states in the U.S.,” said Representative Thompson (PA-15). “We don’t know enough about this neurological disease, but we need to in order to ensure healthy deer populations and prevent it from spreading further.  This bill increases our investment in research to find out what causes this fatal disease and how we can cure it.”

“Deer hunting has a long and storied history in my district in southern Texas,” said Representative Vela (TX-34). “It is also a huge economic driver to the local communities that rely solely on big game hunting.  CWD when found can have devastating effects to the livelihood of families and ranchers and this legislation is a step towards scientific efforts to confront this fatal disease.”

“For the past couple of months I have heard from countless hunters from Blair and Bedford about Chronic Wasting Disease and the problematic actions the Pennsylvania Game Commission took to address it,” said Representative Joyce (PA-13). “While I recently offered an initial solution by cosponsoring legislation to implement a federal study to find a cure for the disease without harming hunters in PA-13, we can do even more on this issue. The legislation being introduced today will ensure Congress allocates sufficient and timely funding that will incentivize the innovation necessary to cure this terrible disease amongst our region’s deer.”  

“Agriculture is the backbone of our nation’s economy,” said Representative Cuellar (TX-28). “The deer breeding and deer hunting industry generates $7.9 billion of economic activity for the U. S. economy.  In addition, the industry provides the economic activity that supports 56,320 domestic jobs, most of which are located in rural areas, like those in my district.  My hope is that this measure provides reasonable and necessary protections to this vulnerable livestock, on which many South Texans rely.”


ABOUT THE BILL

H.R. 2081, the Chronic Wasting Disease Research Act amends the Animal Health Protection Act to establish a grant program for research on the fatal disease.

The bill authorizes $15 million for the program.  Grants would be awarded on a competitive basis to states, state departments of agriculture, institutions of higher education, and research centers conducting scientific research on chronic wasting disease.

To ensure the long-term viability of cervid populations, scientific advances must be made to stop the transmission of chronic wasting disease.

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