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USDA Renews Funding Commitment for Johne's Disease Coordinated Agriculture Project

Jennifer Martin, (202) 720-8188

WASHINGTON, March 20, 2008 - USDA's Cooperative State Research, Education, and Extension Service (CSREES) awarded the Johne's Disease Integrated Program (JDIP) $4.8 million in renewed funding of four years to control and ultimately eliminate the disease.

"Johne's is a serious disease affecting large numbers of beef and dairy cattle and accounts for more than $200 million in economic losses," said Gale Buchanan, USDA under secretary for Research, Education and Economics. "The continuation of this research will help develop practical solutions to ensure a safe and healthy food supply and stable economy."

Johne's disease (pronounced "YO-knees") is an intestinal infection caused by bacteria most often seen in ruminant animals. It causes weight loss, decreased milk production and reduced fertility. Current estimates indicate that up to 70 percent of U.S. dairy herds, and a smaller percent of beef herds, are infected with the disease.

CSREES' National Research Initiative Competitive Grants Program initially funded JDIP in 2004 with a 3-year, $4.4 million grant. The continuation of the program will focus on developing new diagnostic tests, vaccines and strategies to help producers manage, control and prevent the disease. The program began with 70 scientists from 24 leading academic and government institutions and has since grown to more than 170 researchers around the globe. The first three years of research, education and extension activities helped the group better understand the transmission cycle of the disease and develop improved sampling and testing strategies that are being used by producers and incorporated into the Voluntary Bovine Johne's Disease Control Program (VBJDCP).

JDIP contributed to the development of an online Johne's disease veterinary certification program, which was adopted by USDA's Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service's VBJDCP. More than 1,000 registrants have accrued more than 4,500 continuing education hours through the program. Six free online instruction modules for producers, including one Spanish-language module, were also created.

The consortium is lead by Vivek Kapur at Pennsylvania State University, with scientists at USDA's Agricultural Research Service, University of California-Davis, Cornell University, University of Minnesota and industry completing the executive committee that interfaces with more than twenty academic institutions in the United States and abroad, as well as federal and state agencies, private industry and professional associations.

Through federal funding and leadership for research, education and extension programs, CSREES focuses on investing in science and solving critical issues impacting people's daily lives and the nation's future. For more information, visit www.csrees.usda.gov.