Growing up on a dairy farm instilled a passion for agriculture within me. Although I enjoyed working with livestock and livestock producers, I was never going to go to vet school because eight years of college after high school was too much school. During my first year of college, however, I realized that being there to assist livestock producers when they needed it was exactly what I wanted to do. Thus, I applied to veterinary college and was accepted at Kansas State University.
When I left for vet school a friend commented that I might meet a young gal in vet school and get tied down in Kansas. I told him that “I was never going to marry a veterinarian.” I wasn’t sure how I was going to pay for my own education, let alone two. Needless to say, less than three years later I married my lab partner. I went to veterinary school wanting to practice food animal medicine. My wife went to school wanting to work in public health and regulatory medicine. Thankfully Amy received a lot of financial assistance to pay for her education, so although I did not come away with twice the student debt, by marrying a classmate I gained an interest in something other than “traditional” veterinary medicine. Today my wife and I have a mobile food animal veterinary practice and consulting service based out of Sabetha, KS. Although we do the traditional DA surgeries, preg checks, and dehorning, we also conduct research related to emergency response planning to foreign animal diseases.
Some say we will never have foot-and-mouth disease (FMD) in the United States. I have learned to never say never, because when you do, it will likely come to pass. So, if FMD were to be identified in the U.S., what would happen? One of the first things that would occur is a stop-movement order. What does this mean? Many states, if not all, will require that all movement of livestock and livestock products be temporarily halted in order to gain an understanding of where the disease already is. This means that there will be no calves, heifers, or cows moving off farms, and no shipping milk. How long will this go on? It depends on a lot of things, but rest assured that the movement of milk will be one of the first priorities to get on the roads again. Movement will only be allowed under risk-based permitting in order to reduce disease transmission. This means that uninfected farms that can demonstrate they have good biosecurity practices in place will be the first ones to resume transportation of livestock and livestock products. How do they show this? The easiest way is by developing a Secure Milk Supply plan. Not only are farms that participate in Secure Milk able to show they are less likely to transmit the disease, they are also less likely to get the disease because of the biosecurity practices they have in place.
Hopefully we never see FMD or a similar disease in the United States, but never say never. Be prepared. Go to http://securemilksupply.org/ today.
This article appeared in the Kansas Dairy Dispatch, Volume 12, Issue 1.