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Agricultural News

USDA Working to Avoid Scorched Earth Tactics If Foot and Mouth Disease Should Hit US Livestock Industry

Tue, 13 Sep 2011 16:50:56 CDT

USDA Working to Avoid Scorched Earth Tactics If Foot and Mouth Disease Should Hit US Livestock Industry

Agro-Defense was the subject of a Senate hearing on Tuesday- and Kansas Senator Jerry Moran discussed the threat and fears of an intentional introduction of a contagious animal disease with the Chief Veterinary Officer of the USDA's APHIS, Dr. John Clifford.

Moran asked Dr. Clifford if there is any evidence of an actual threat to US agriculture by terrorists- Dr. Clifford told the Senator "There's not been any attempt, to my knowledge, of introduction" of disease organisms by terrorists- although Dr. Clifford added that they are aware that Islamic terrorists after 9-11 had written about possible attacks on the US food supply with the use of disease.

Dr. Clifford went on to say that it would not really matter whether it was an intentional introduction of a disease into the livestock of the United States- or an unintentional occurance- USDA and the other federal agencies that would respond would do so the same way-using the same kind of plan. The only difference is that if it appears that it is an intentional attack- the FBI could play a role and declare some locations as a crime scene.

Dr. Clifford says that it is important for the United States to continue to work towards different ways to deal with diseases like FMD- and to avoid the "scorched earth" tactic that resulted in millions of animals destroyed in Great Britain during their desvastating Foot and Mouth Disease outbreak almost a decade ago.

Moran and Clifford also discussed the way that some countries continue to use BSE as a trade weapon against the United States- and how that shows that even a rumor of a disease outbreak could impact international trade almost immediately.

We have the Q&A between Senator Moran and Dr. Clifford as a special digital version of the Beef Buzz- which offers a lot of insight about where we stand today with Agro Defense in this country- at least when it comes to animal agriculture.

At that same hearing, the Senators heard from Lisa Shames of the GAO, who announced her office was releasing a report of the status of agency cooperation in the area of Agro Defense. To hear her testimony and to review the GAO report, click here.

The Beef Buzz is a regular feature heard on radio stations around the region on the Radio Oklahoma Network- but is also a regular audio feature found on this website as well. Click on the listen bar below for today's show- and check out our archives for older Beef Buzz shows covering the gamut of the beef cattle industry today.

The photo from the FMD outbreak in England is courtesy of Free Foto.


Ron Hays Beef Buzzes about Senate Hearing Conversation of Senator Jerry Moran and Dr. John Clifford.
right-click to download mp3


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