Livestock Disease Preparedness a Goal for Tactical Sciences Grant

Many Holstein cows in a barn eating hay.

Animal and Veterinary Sciences Research Associate Professor Julie Smith, and Plant and Soil Science Research Assistant Professor Scott Merrill have been awarded $1 million dollars for a three-year research and outreach project funded through the USDA NIFA Tactical Sciences for Agricultural Biosecurity program.

Entitled, “A systems approach to securing the New England milk supply in the event of a foot-and-mouth disease outbreak”, this project follows on previous and currently funded work on biosecurity and emergency livestock disease preparedness led by Smith. The new project also includes a sub-award with Dr. Christopher Wolf at Cornell University. The team will use participatory methods and modeling to support planning and policy development in the context of livestock pandemic preparedness for the regions dairy industry.

The “pandemic” of concern is foot-and-mouth disease (FMD). The FMD virus is among the most feared foreign animal disease agents, and preparedness is essential to protect susceptible livestock sectors. Our goal is to enhance the readiness of the dairy industry within the New England milkshed to step up biosecurity to mitigate the impacts of FMD if detected anywhere in the United States. Over the course of this three-year project, our objectives are to

  • Conduct a workshop and other activities with industry participants to advance secure milk supply planning
  • Create a dynamic model incorporating regional milk movements and biosecurity to facilitate scenario testing and biosecurity training.
  • Evaluate incentive policies which could foster FMD readiness in the New England milkshed.

The potential impact and expected outcomes of this work are industry support for enhanced biosecurity and a revised regional secure milk supply plan. We believe this work will contribute to mitigating the impact of high consequence foreign animal diseases and increase the resilience of agricultural communities.

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