Recent world events suggest we should raise our awareness for threats to our food system. For livestock producers, this means looking at biosecurity practices and activity for all foreign animal diseases (FAD). One FAD that is of particular concern is Foot-and-Mouth Disease (FMD). FMD is a highly contagious viral disease of cloven-hoofed animals. It affects cattle, swine, sheep, goats, deer and other ruminants. Livestock owners fear FMD because it spreads rapidly and causes severe economic and consumer confidence losses, as well as international trade embargoes. A quick response is vitally important to the livestock industries in containing an FMD outbreak and preserving markets.
Five things you can do:
Because FADs can have far reaching impacts, it is important for the livestock industries to develop an understanding of these diseases and plans to address them. Things you can do include: developing or enhancing your visitors’ policy, setting up farm gate biosecurity protocols, knowing the signs of FMD and other FADs, increasing surveillance and reviewing information about FMD and what may happen if an outbreak occurred. Such steps would reduce the risk of an FAD occurring and increase the success of a response to an outbreak.
1. Develop or enhance your visitors’ policy. Visitors can be a route of disease transmission onto your farm. Establishing a visitors’ policy for routine and non-routine visitors can reduce your risk from this route of disease transmission. A visitors’ policy states what is expected from each visitor while on the premises. A typical visitors’ policy might look something like the following;
The health and welfare of our cattle and the safety of the product they produce is of highest priority to us. To help protect our cattle and you, we have developed a visitor policy
- Do not proceed onto facilities if you have been in another country in the past 7 days
- If you are coming from another farm, we ask that you do not come in contact of our animals if your clothes are soiled
- Sign our visitors log
- Wear plastic boots or clean and sanitize personal boots
- Please stay out of areas marked employees only or “Disease Prevention Area” (such as our calf housing)
- Wash hands prior to departure
- Enjoy your visit
It is important to communicate expectations and at the same time make visitors feel they are welcome, particularly if you provide tours for the public. There is a need to balance the openness of livestock facilities with appropriate, responsible biosecurity measures to reduce risks, knowing we cannot eliminate all risk.