Being on the lookout for opportunities to mingle with other industry folks engaged in animal disease emergency preparedness, I recently joined the Animal Health Emergency Management Committee of the National Institute for Animal Agriculture (NIAA). Committee Co-chairs Patrick Webb of the National Pork Board and Leah Dorman of the Ohio Farm Bureau Federation arranged a tabletop exercise for participants at the March 2010 meeting. Tabletops can be designed in different ways; this one involved an elaborate tabletop model of several livestock facilities and farms adjacent to a state border. The goal was to engage the industry sectors represented—dairy, beef, and swine—in discussions of how best to respond to maximize continuity of business. Continuity of business refers to the ability to keep animals fed and animals or animal products headed to market channels within the constraints of the emergency response. As the scenario unfolded, it dawned on me that the response that dairy farms might favor could be in conflict with the response that swine producers might favor. Clearly this type of exercise needs to be repeated as various industry groups develop their continuity of business plans to deal with animal disease disasters.
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