Biosecure Your Dairy for Foot-and-Mouth Disease and Other Diseases

Biosecurity is the first step in disease prevention and for one virus, biosecurity could mean financial security for farmers.
( Wyatt Bechtel )

Biosecurity is the first step in disease prevention and for one virus, biosecurity could mean financial security for farmers.

Foot-and-mouth disease (FMD) was eradicated from the U.S. in 1929, but it is prevalent internationally. Vaccines are just one tool that can be used to reduce the impacts of FMD, and on-farm biosecurity is the first line of defense.

The dairy industry has been proactive on the biosecurity front when it comes to FMD by establishing the Secure Milk Supply Plan (SMS) for Continuity of Business. SMS is a voluntary certification program that helps farms prepare before an outbreak ever occurs and allows them to keep moving milk should there ever be an FMD case domestically.

South Carolina farmer Kevin Satterwhite moved forward with the voluntary program in 2017 to get his family’s dairy certified.

“We hope that FMD never hits the U.S., but you know, in order to move milk that’s what we have to do,” Satterwhite says.

A wash-in and wash-out station was installed on the 1,500-cow dairy so all vehicles entering the premise can be disinfected upon entering or leaving the farm.

Certification also includes training employees and establishing standard operating procedures. Satterwhite Dairy is certified through the Mid-Atlantic SMS, which includes 12 states from Georgia to New York. SMS projects are also being done regionally and by state in such areas as California, Colorado, Kansas, Wisconsin and six New England states. SMS has been organized with veterinarians from across the nation and the USDA.

An important part of SMS biosecurity is a premise identification number, says James Roth, DVM and director of the Center for Food Security and Public Health at Iowa State University.

“In order to move animals and maybe to move milk, farmers need a premises identification number, and they can get that ahead of time,” Roth says of a potential FMD outbreak.

Not only is having biosecurity plans in place important for FMD, it also sets a farm up for success when dealing with more endemic diseases like Johne’s or bovine viral diarrhea (BVD).

“It’s in every dairy’s best interest to have good biosecurity on a daily basis,” says Pam Hullinger, DVM and director of the California Animal Health and Food Safety Laboratory at University of California, Davis.

“Hairy heal warts, BVD, mastitis pathogens—those are diseases that cost dairymen money every day, but it's hard to quantitate those costs,” Hullinger says.

Adopting biosecurity practices such as those established through SMS can help producers prevent diseases on U.S. farms and reduce the spread of international outbreaks.

For more information about biosecurity, visit