NCBA receives FMD funding
Although eradicated in the U.S. in 1929, foot and mouth disease (FMD) is still a major concern for U.S. cattle producers as an outbreak could cause major economic disruptions in the beef system.
According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS), FMD is a worldwide concern as it can spread quickly and cause significant economic losses.
FMD also has serious impacts on livestock trade. In fact, a single detection of FMD will likely stop international trade completely for a period of time.
In an effort to help further prevent entry into the U.S., USDA recently awarded the National Cattleman’s Beef Association (NCBA) nearly half a million dollars in funding to advance the Secure Beef Supply (SBS) Plan in the event of an FMD outbreak in the U.S.
“NCBA thanks USDA for awarding this critical funding. The SBS Plan, combined with USDA’s national vaccine bank, provides a strong safety net for cattle producers and multiple tools to mitigate risk from a potential outbreak,” says Allison Rivera, NCBA executive director of government affairs in a recent press release.
According to APHIS, “FMD causes illness in cows, pigs, sheep, goats, deer and other animals with divided hooves. It does not affect horses, dogs or cats. FMD is not a public health or food safety threat. It is also not related to hand, foot and mouth disease, which is a common childhood illness caused by a different virus.”
FMD presents as blisters, or vesicles, on the tongue and lips, in and around the mouth, on the mammary glands and around the hooves. Vesicles pop and turn into red areas called erosions.
“FMD is caused by one of seven known viruses and nearly 60 subtypes. After an animal is infected with the virus, the first signs of illness usually appear within two to 14 days,” explains APHIS. “The virus survives in living tissue and in the breath, saliva, urine and other excretions of infected animals.”
What sets FMD apart from other infectious diseases is its ability to survive in multiple mediums, including contaminated materials and in the environment for several months under the right conditions.
The SBS Plan
According to APHIS, the SBS Plan provides a workable business continuity plan for operations under movement restrictions but not infected with FMD. The plan offers movement guidance for producers, haulers, packing and processing plants and officials managing the outbreak.
The SBS Plan lays out the responsibilities of all parties involved in a potential outbreak including producers, regulatory officials and processors and packers.
The SBS Plan states, “It is the producer’s responsibility during an FMD outbreak to protect their animals from becoming infected, focusing on what they can control on their operation.”
The responsibility of regulatory officials in the event of an outbreak are rooted in their ultimate goal of eradication of the outbreak.
“It is the regulatory officials’ responsibility during an outbreak to detect, control and contain FMD as quickly as possible with the ultimate goal of eradication,” reads the SBS Plan.
“Responsible regulatory officials managing the incident will make permitting decisions regarding the movements of animals, animal products and other movements posing a risk of virus spread within, into, out of and through control areas based on the unique characteristics of the outbreak, the status of the premises and the risks and mitigations involved with the types of movement,” the plan continues.
Despite being no threat to the health of the public, processors and packers play a unique role in keeping the beef chain moving during an FMD event.
“Animals which pass antemortem and postmortem inspection by the USDAʼs Food Safety Inspection Service are safe and wholesome for human consumption, even if they are in the pre-clinical or recovery stage of FMD infection,” says the SBS Plan. “Many packing plants have on-site rendering capacity for non-edible products, so any virus in those products would be destroyed prior to leaving the packing plant.”
In the event of an FMD outbreak, there are many moving parts and associated parties. Having a plan of action and adequate funding to move forward with said plan are critical for damage control following an FMD outbreak.
Callie Hanson is a corresponding writer for the Wyoming Livestock Roundup. Send comments on this article to email@example.com.