HARRISBURG – The state Senate today approved a bill introduced by Sen. Lynda Schlegel Culver (R-27) to help protect domestic animals and the food supply against dangerous transmissible diseases.
Culver’s Senate Bill 979 would authorize the Pennsylvania Department of Agriculture to require information about dangerous transmittable diseases to be posted at locations where domestic animals and feed are sold to the public.
“One of the best ways we can help the public prevent the spread of dangerous, transmittable animal diseases is through the dissemination of information,” Culver said. “If the public doesn’t know about a problem and the ways to address it, people can’t do their part to make a positive difference.”
The department has broad authority to issue quarantines and regulate the keeping of domestic animals to exclude or contain a dangerous transmissible disease.
There are no laws enabling the department to compel retailers to provide information to the public about how to manage domestic animals to prevent or mitigate disease. Retailers can choose whether to provide such information, even if it is encouraged and provided by a regulatory authority. Culver’s bill would enable the department to require retailers to post the information for public consumption.
Culver’s bill comes as the commonwealth and nation are dealing with the historic outbreak of the highly pathogenic avian influenza, which affects both commercial and backyard poultry flocks.
Pennsylvania’s commercial poultry industry is well connected and receives regular communication about biosecurity and disease management through a variety of channels from regulators and industry partners. Homeowners who purchase a few poultry for backyard flocks, however, may not have access to similar information because they are not identified as part of the food chain.
Culver introduced the bill to address the current highly pathogenic avian influenza outbreak, but it also would enable the department to help with similar future outbreaks.
“This bill is about ensuring the public has access to important information now and in the future,” Culver said. “When there’s a dangerous transmittable disease affecting domestic animals, we need tools like this to contain the problem and prevent it from spreading.”
Culver’s bill now heads to the House of Representatives for consideration.
More information about Culver is available online at SenatorCulver.com. Residents can follow her on Facebook at www.Facebook.com/SenCulver for updates about legislative action in Harrisburg and news in the 27th District.
Media Contact: Sean Moll