RELEASE: Senators Reverend Warnock, Ernst Introduce the Beagle Brigade Act to Protect Georgia’s Agriculture

This bipartisan legislation provides explicit authorization for the USDA’s National Detector Dog Training Center, which trains beagles and other dogs to detect foreign pests and diseases

The trained dogs, also known as the Beagle Brigade, inspect fruits, vegetables, and meat products in international passenger baggage, mailed packages, and vehicles entering the country

Many of these dogs work at the Atlanta International Airport

ICYMI from the Newnan Times-Herald: Warnock legislation would authorize Beagle Brigade, trained in Newnan

 Senator Reverend Warnock pets a trained dog at USDA’s National Detector Dog Training Center

Washington, D.C. – Today, U.S. Senator Reverend Raphael Warnock (D-GA) and Senator Joni Ernst (R-IA) introduced new legislation to authorize and directly fund the Beagle Brigade, dogs trained by the USDA to detect foreign pests and diseases that threaten the domestic agriculture industry. While the USDA’s National Detector Dog Training Center, which trains the Beagle Brigade, has operated in Newnan, Georgia for years, the Center itself is not explicitly authorized by Congress, instead, USDA relies on general plant and animal health protection authorities. Without authorization, funding for the center is inconsistent as it relies on USDA user fees. Congressional authorization would allow for federal appropriations directly to the Center to ensure consistent funding for the training program.

“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.”

“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,” 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.”

The Beagle Brigade Act would:

  • Explicitly authorize the National Detector Dog Training Center
  • Outline the Center’s duties, including:
    • Training dogs for the purpose of safeguarding domestic agriculture
    • Training human handlers to successfully select and train dogs
    • Collaborating with other federal agencies, including U.S. Customs and Border Protection
    • Collaborating with external stakeholders, including agriculture stakeholders
    • Ensuring the health and wellbeing of all dogs in the Center’s care
    • Providing adoption opportunities for all dogs
  • Authorize appropriations (such sums as necessary) to support the Center’s operations in addition to funding generated from user fees
  • Require a report to Congress on the Center’s operations and recommendations to strengthen capacity to better protect domestic agriculture.

Yesterday, Senator Reverend Warnock traveled to Newnan and visited the USDA’s National Detector Dog Training Center. As a proud member of the Senate Agriculture Committee, Senator Warnock was thrilled to visit the training center and speak on his bipartisan Beagle Brigade Act, which would officially authorize and directly fund their operations.