The possibility of an outbreak of animal disease is keeping both scientists and Iowa farmers on the lookout, whether the cause is deliberate or not. Brian Waddingham with the Iowa Beef Industry Council says they’ve been considering the chance for “agro-terrorism” since long before even the attacks of 9/11. Waddingham says it’s something the industry group hopes to keep a priority, and make sure beef producers are informed about things they can do on the farm to cut the chance of any incident.
One preventive measure he recommends is taking part in the “Beef quality Assurance Program” offered by the Beef Industry Council. Funded by checkoff dollars, the program teaches farmers about the latest practices and ways to deliver safe, quality beef. He’s gone around to a lot of cattle producers while doing that program, and talked about things they can do on the farm to ensure bio-security and reduce the risk of livestock in their disease, or eliminate it altogether.
Some of the things he’ll recommend include tips for cutting the spread of disease. Monitor the feedstuff, he recommends, and keep track of visitors to the farm — if a feed salesman, veterinarian or other visitors comes, there might even be a spot set aside for them to park. And when newly-purchased replacement cattle are brought to the farm, they should be separated from the herd for seven to ten days to make sure they’re free from disease.
If some outbreak of livestock disease breaks out, Waddingham says farmers aren’t going to wait for FEMA to respond. If there is some sort of emergency in a community, the local people, response teams and emergency management officials in that area will take responsibility to “get in front of” the outbreak and do things like quarantine it, and not allow any disease to be carried out or any people who shouldn’t be involved come in.
“It’s up to that local community to really pull together and involve everybody, which includes the beef producers and other livestock producers as well”