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The Threat of Foreign Animal Diseases and The Need for Agriculture Biosecurity

Foreign animal diseases are not only a serious threat to American livestock and agriculture, but also to our nation’s economy and security. A wide variety of devastating plant and animal pathogens exist outside of the U.S. Many of these agents could be accidentally or intentionally transported inside the U.S borders. The transportation of livestock and agriculture products is monitored and regulated by both the U.S.D.A. and Washington State Department of Agriculture. However, the concern does exist that a foreign animal disease outbreak could occur accidentally or by terrorist means. Therefore, it is critical that agriculturist and American citizens take steps to safeguard American agriculture.

Washington’s farmers and ranchers must pay close attention to these issues because of the state’s dependency on the agricultural economy and its location. Washington State’s location causes concern because of the connection it has to many foreign ports and international travelers. For these reasons, it is essential that all agriculture operations and stakeholders have a working biosecurity plan in place. Biosecurity is the management practices incorporated into an operation to protect animals and crops from exposure to an infectious agent that can adversely affect productivity, profitability and human health.

Activities that can be incorporated into your current management system to enhance biosecurity include:

  1. Require recent international travelers to disinfect footwear and clothing before working with livestock, feed, and equipment.
  2. Limit unknown visitors and animal introduction to the farm until you receive proper verification.
  3. Establish and update records regularly of visitors, deliveries, animals, feedstuffs, and equipment moving on and off the farm.
  4. Implement high standards of hygiene/disinfectant.

  1. Isolate new animals. Observe them closely for at least a week before introducing them into the existing herd.
  2. Purchase known source animals with health history records.
  3. Purchase feedstuffs and equipment from a known source with a strong commitment to hygiene and biosecurity.
  4. Train all personnel on the importance of biosecurity.
  5. Report ANY possible signs or death possibly associated with foreign animal disease to local, state or federal veterinarian. Early detection is critical for quick eradication and minimal economic damage.
  6. Establish an effective herd health program.
  7. Post rules concerning biosecurity measures in place.
  8. Establish property perimeter fencing.