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Amid Concerns About Avian Influenza, African Swine Fever, Ernst Wants to Give More ‘Bark’ to US Detection Program

The Iowa senator is working to reinforce training for the “Beagle Brigade,” a class of dogs that inspect cargo to detect animal diseases coming into the country.

WASHINGTON – Following a confirmed case of highly pathogenic avian influenza in Iowa today and cases of African Swine Fever (ASF) found in Haiti and the Dominican Republic over the summer, U.S. Senator Joni Ernst (R-Iowa) is joining U.S. Senator Raphael Warnock (D-Ga.)—both members of the Senate Agriculture Committee—on a bipartisan effort to reinforce training for the “Beagle Brigade,” a class of dogs that sniff out cargo for unauthorized meat, animal byproducts, fruit, and vegetables that could carry potential diseases and pests onto U.S. soil.
“Iowa farmers know the dangers harmful diseases, like highly pathogenic avian influenza and African Swine Fever, pose to our state’s agriculture sector and how critical it is to ensure we do everything we can to keep them out,” said Senator Joni Ernst. “The Beagle Brigade is a key tool in our nation’s toolbox in detecting these serious diseases before they find their way into the U.S., and we ought to ensure this important program gets the proper backing to continue its work.”
“Protecting Georgia’s agriculture is good for our farmers, good for our economy, and good for the health of our state,” said Senator Reverend Warnock. “If we want to continue this important work, Congress needs to pass this bipartisan legislation to give the Beagle Brigade explicit authorization so it can operate for years to come with direct congressional support. I’m grateful to these hard working dogs and their trainers for their service to Georgia and our country.”
The “Beagle Brigade” dogs and human handlers, employed by the U.S. Department of Agriculture's Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) and the U.S. Department of Homeland Security Customs and Border Protection (CBP), are trained at the National Detector Dog Training Center in Newnan, Georgia.
Currently, there is an assortment of funding sources for the training center. The senators’ new legislation, the National Detector Dog Training Center Act, would streamline the funding that supports the training center and ensure it has the proper backing.
Ernst’s bill builds on her past efforts to bolster America’s border security and inspections, including her co-sponsorship of the Protecting America’s Food & Agriculture Act of 2019 that was signed into law by President Trump. That legislation, now law, authorized CBP to bring on more inspectors and canine teams to fully staff our nation’s airports, seaports and land ports of entry.