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Enhancing the Cattle Producer’s Biosecurity Plan

Enhancing the Cattle Producer’s Biosecurity Plan
Julia Herman, DVM, MS
Beef Cattle Specialist Veterinarian, NCBA, a contractor to the Beef Checkoff

As we expand biosecurity planning on the farm and ranch, it is best to be prepared beyond everyday diseases. Foot and mouth disease (FMD) is a foreign animal disease and the most contagious viral disease that affects cloven-hooved livestock and wildlife species. Fortunately, FMD is NOT a public health or food safety risk though its effects on our economy, trade, and way of life would be devastating if it were to enter North America.

The Checkoff-funded Beef Quality Assurance (BQA) Program has partnered with the USDA funded Secure Beef Supply (SBS) Plan to provide resources to cattle producers for properly preparing for an FMD outbreak. These resources enable producers to learn more about FMD, clinical signs, and protective measures to incorporate into their facilities and businesses. During an FMD outbreak, normal activities will be disrupted, and limited animal movement will be implemented initially to allow Regulatory Officials to investigate and trace infected animals. Similar to the current COVID-19 outbreak, identifying FMD in animals early on will be critical to minimizing effects on the livestock industry and economy.

With these biosecurity goals, realize that biosecurity is always a work in progress, yet is one aspect that producers have the most control over. Producers can prioritize actions from the SBS checklists on what is completed, what can be done quickly, and identify next steps. Record keeping is important during peace time and during a disease outbreak. Resources in your community such as veterinarians, extension agents, or BQA state coordinators can help you write, implement, and update your biosecurity plan.

Biosecurity involves preparing for both common diseases and foreign animal diseases. These concepts are instrumental in keeping both humans and animals healthy.  For more information and downloadable preparation documents, visit the BQA website at bqa.org or the Secure Beef Supply Plan website at securebeef.org. Together we can take a stepwise approach to protect your animals and business now and in the future.