Focus is on Animal Disease Control

More than 85 percent of those completing an informal survey at ID•INFO Expo 2007 believe the United States is not keeping pace with other developed countries regarding animal traceability systems for marketing and disease control purposes.

ID•INFO Expo 2007, held in late August in Kansas City, MO, is hosted by the National Institute for Animal Agriculture (NIAA). More than 400 people from allied industries, government, academia, and producers attended the event, which included a trade show with 23 exhibitors.

Animal disease control topped the list when respondents ranked “the biggest needs for implementing animal traceability systems.” The second biggest need, according to survey respondents, was export of livestock products. Value-added livestock marketing was next, while food safety and country of origin labeling ranked fourth and fifth, respectively. Under the “other” needs category appeared “mandatory,” “decreased costs of production,” “a secure data collection system,” and “expansion of the Locate in 48 program.”

When posed the question, “What level of participation do you feel is necessary for the premises registration under NAIS [National Animal Identification System] to become an effective tool in supporting animal disease traceability?”, nine out of 10 respondents agreed that “80 to 100 percent” participation would be necessary. Of the remaining respondents, just 6.67 percent thought “60 to 80 percent” would be required, while 3.33 percent answered “40 to 60 percent” participation. No one marked the “less than 40 percent” participation box.

“Incorporate and require ID standards throughout all existing disease programs” and the “other” category received the highest rankings when individuals were asked, “What steps do you feel can be taken today that will give the biggest boost toward enhancing participation in a national animal disease traceability system?”

About half of respondents who checked the “other” category wrote “mandatory” as the answer to enhancing participation. Other write-ins that moved this category to be ranked as the biggest boost included “public education,” “create a business plan and stick to it,” “guarantee privacy and limit liability to producers for infractions,” and “make it an industry-run program.”

More details on the survey and ID•INFO Expo 2007 can be found in the NIAA’s fall newsletter, Animal Agriculture Quarterly, which is available at Proceedings of the expo’s presentations are also available on the Web site.

Foreign Animal Disease Committee Meets

In August, the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA’s) Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service announced in the Federal Register is was reestablishing the Agriculture Secretary’s Advisory Committee on Foreign Animal and Poultry Diseases for a two-year period after determining the committee was necessary. The committee is comprised of animal health experts from universities, industry, and state departments of agriculture.

Dr. David Meeker, National Renderers Association (NRA), serves on the committee, which met in mid-August to review its 2006 recommendations to the Secretary of Agriculture, and to interface with USDA representatives regarding six foreign animal disease priorities moving forward. The 2007 disease priorities as outlined by Secretary Mike Johanns include vaccination strategies, national veterinary stockpile, National Animal Identification System, avian influenza, foot and mouth disease (FMD), and Rift Valley fever (RVF).

Meeker said there were lengthy discussions on RVF and FMD. RVF was presented as an ecologically-based issue that has cycled both endemically and epidemically in East Africa with alarming results. Transmission of RVF occurs through mosquitoes (transmittable to humans) and is based on environmental factors such as rain and climate change. It is a vector-borne disease with a high fatality rate.

Actions taken in response to RVF include alerts issued by the United Nations’ Food and Agriculture Organization. In addition, entomology teams have analyzed data and created forecast reports. For the United States, the El Niño weather pattern in recent years created extraordinary climate readiness for RVF. In the event of an RVF outbreak, some vaccination potential exists, but this science would need to be developed, the committee underscored. RVF could also potentially be used as a biological warfare agent. The committee believes that RVF is an up-and-coming topic to watch out for.

The USDA’s goal to completely eradicate FMD is facilitated by the development of a preparedness tool called the North American Animal Disease Spread Model (NAADSM), which is a collaborative project between Canadian and U.S. academic and government agencies. Its purpose is to model disease spread through geospatial and zonal technologies, and also model control strategies. Through the creation of zones that have been used in NAADSM, USDA is able to assess damage and respond more accurately. The committee commented that USDA would need to ensure that NAADSM takes into account the constant transportation and movement of livestock in order to ensure its accuracy.

Meeker noted that bovine spongiform encephalopathy is not mentioned in this year’s report due to the committee’s decision that the disease is currently of little risk and low importance in the United States. He added that it’s good the NRA is included in the committee so that rendering will have a fair representation in disease eradication decisions.

Newsline – October 2007 RENDER | back