WASHINGTON — The Beagle Brigade Act was reintroduced on March 9 in both the US Senate and House of Representatives. The legislation would provide permanent authorization of the National Detector Dog Training Center in Newnan, Ga., the first line of defense against foreign animal and plant diseases.

US Representatives Sanford D. Bishop, Jr. (D-Ga.), Drew Ferguson (R-Ga.), Dan Kildee (D-Mich.) and Adrian Smith (R-Neb.) along with Senators Reverend Raphael Warnock (D-Ga.) and Joni Ernst (R-Iowa) introduced the bills. The Beagle Brigade Act was first introduced in 2022.

The US Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) National Detector Dog Training Center creates a dog workforce known as the Beagle Brigade, trained to detect fruits, vegetables and meats that could be a threat to US agriculture. The Beagle Brigade is sent to US ports of entry, such as airports, land border crossings, and mail and cargo facilities.

The dogs — mostly beagles — are chosen from animal shelters, rescue groups and private owners. If a dog does not complete training, it is offered for adoption.

“Permanently authorizing the National Detector Dog Training Center represents a much-needed commitment to safeguard America’s agriculture industry, a trillion-dollar contributor to our country’s economy,” Representative Bishop said. “The Beagle Brigade and their human handlers are on the front line, protecting our nation from foreign pests and diseases which could otherwise run rampant, damaging our agricultural production and overall economy.”

The National Pork Producers Council applauded the reintroduction of the Beagle Brigade Act 2023 and urged Congress to act swiftly in passing the bills.

“Safe and reliable food production is critical to the United States' continued national and economic security,” said Terry Wolters, NPPC president and owner of Stoney Creek Farms in Pipestone, Minn. “As African swine fever continues to plague the Dominican Republic and Haiti, strengthening early detection capabilities at our US borders is more important than ever.”