Twenty years of safe deep water drilling did not excuse the oil industry for not being prepared for its recent disaster; 80 years without an outbreak of foot-and-mouth disease does not let US livestock industries off the hook from having comprehensive response plans in place.
Starting on the farm, what do we need to be ready to do (or be doing already) to minimize the chance of “going down” in an outbreak? Can farmers identify potential links with infected or potentially infected farms? Can access to the farm be limited to a single, controlled entrance point? Can a cleaning and disinfection station be set up away from facilities housing susceptible animals? Can employees, especially those who work on other farms or have animals of their own, shower in and out of the workplace? If animal movements are stopped to stop the spread of disease, how will that affect farms? If milk movements are stopped for a period of time, how will milk be disposed of that is unmarketable?
Some of the answers are straightforward, some lead to a myriad of unintended consequences.
I am leading a project with others from UVM and UVM Extension that is working with farmers, people who work with dairy farmers, community members and town officers in Addison County, VT to grapple with these types of questions.
If you’d like to know more about this project, send me an e-mail.