Okla's Livestock Industry Leaders Join in Preparation for the Potential Threat of an FMD OutbreakFri, 04 Aug 2017 13:21:58 CDT
Since 1929, there have been no confirmed cases of Foot & Mouth Disease in the US. But, experts say it is only a matter of time before a potential economically devastating FMD outbreak might occur in our nation’s livestock industry. To thwart such an event, the pork and beef industries have come together ahead of the 2018 Farm Bill, to request that Congress include monetary provisions over the course of five years, that would be set aside for the development of an FMD vaccine bank. In addition, FMD preparedness exercises are being conducted among industry leaders and emergency managers, like the one hosted this week by the Oklahoma Pork Council. Michael Kelsey, executive vice president of the Oklahoma Cattlemen’s Association, was invited to the tabletop exercise, to represent the state’s beef industry, in this scenario exercise, to help key players understand the challenges that could arise in the event of a FMD outbreak.
“I think the biggest challenge, is communication,” Kelsey said, describing the given scenario of a confirmed FMD case discovered in a hog barn with cattle grazing nearby. “Pretty quick the hog farm was completely quarantined, but you start reaching out and those cattle are grazing right next to that barn. Well, they probably need to be quarantined as well, at least until we understand what we’re dealing with. That is going to be a big, big issue and we need producers to understand that and be patient and work through that - God forbid this ever happens.”
The disease itself is not lethal for an infected animal. Given proper medical attention and vaccination, an infected animal can go on to recover and even reenter the food chain as FMD is not infectious to humans, only cloven-hoofed animals. But the effects of an outbreak could be devastating to the industry and could negatively impact the ag-sector significantly as a whole. And while nature is unpredictable enough - Kelsey says the human threat, via agro-terrorism, is a major concern as well.
“That’s scary and that is very real,” he warned. “Oklahoma is such a prime agricultural state with our wheat pasture, our cattle, our pork… That’s going to be a major red STOP zone, if this should ever happen. It’s just unthinkable, but we have to be prepared and we have to be real about what the potential is.”
Listen to OCA Executive Vice President Michael Kelsey and Radio Oklahoma Ag Network Farm Director Ron Hays, discuss the measures being taken to prepare Oklahoma’s farmers and ranchers for the potential threat of an FMD outbreak, on today’s Beef Buzz.
The Beef Buzz is a regular feature heard on radio stations around the region on the Radio Oklahoma Network and is 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.
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