State ag department officials are urging local officials to lay out plans to respond to an animal disease disaster. Agency officials conducted a day-long seminar in Mason City yesterday (Tuesday) focused on how cities and counties can work together when there’s a case of “foot and mouth” or some other infectious animal disease. Jane Colacecchi of the Iowa Department of Agriculture calls the seminars “agro-ville exercises.” “These have been really excellent opportunities for inidividuals from local governments, elected officials, first responders, producers — anyone in the community (who) will come and listen,” Colacecchi says. Colacecchi says the meetings let local officials identify what resources they need to acquire, and make connections with people in their area who will be involved should there be an outbreak of some sort of infectious animal disease. There’s no charge to the participants. The meetings are financed by the U-S-D-A. “There are local emergency response plans and those response plans are sufficient to deal with whatever emergency rises at the local level,” Colacecchi says. “But there are some unique circumstances that exist when you start talking about hundreds of head of cattle.” For example, if there were an outbreak of food and mouth disease, the “quarantine area” could be as large as 20 square miles. Colacecchi says she’s confident the emergency plans in place today are adequate to respond to a livestock-related disaster, but she says there’s always “room to build on those plans.” An “agroville exercise” is scheduled tomorrow (Thursday, February 17) in Peosta at the National Education Center for Agricultural Safety. Another seminar will be held February 23rd in Mount Pleasant at Iowa Wesleyan College.
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