Jenni Carr, CEA
Ag & Natural Resources
K-State Research & Extension
Are foreign animal diseases (FAD) a threat to Barton County? Have there been any outbreaks of FAD’s in the United States within the last six years? The answer is yes. The United States has been hit with Exotic Newcastle in California, West Nile Virus from New York to California and a case of Bovine Spongiform Encephalopathy in Texas.
You may wonder how this affects you, a resident of Barton county; New York and California are both many miles away. As a livestock producer you are diligent about the health of your livestock. You probably have some type of informal bio security plan for your operation; you might even have a formal one. When moving livestock to market or other production areas you are conscious of any risks that might be present to compromise your herd and we have not had Foot and Mouth disease in the U.S. since the 1920’s. You are protected right?
Having worked in confined animal feeding operations I have discussed many times the actions that would be required on site to contain an outbreak or to protect the operation from contamination. One aspect I did not consider- the county or statewide planning required to protect other operations and the statewide livestock economy.
I attended a meeting last week at the Britt Spaugh Zoo facilitated by Sandy Johnson, Homeland Security Specialist with the Kansas Department of Agriculture. The topic was “Foreign Animal Diseases” and planning for when there is an outbreak not if. I must preface this with; this was not a meeting to create sensationalism on a topic that can be devastating to the livestock economy. This was about getting local people and officials together to think about and plan for what we each can do to help each other in the event of an issue.
Representatives from Kansas Department of Wildlife, Parks and Tourism, Barton County Road and Bridge, the Health Department, Emergency Management, Sheriff’s Department and the zoo were engaged at the event. Dr. Brian Archer, USDA Animal Plant Health Inspection Service, Vet Services division along with Ms. Johnson helped us identify our roles and explained how state and federal agencies respond to help the county or local effort.
Working in the livestock field I can claim to have tunnel vision on some things. I did not realize the impact that an incident could have on a zoo, the health department, local law enforcement as well as local businesses. With Barton County having a major agriculture economy there would be an impact. This would vary from the livestock producers to the businesses that cater to livestock producers to other business that have customers that are livestock producers.So I guess the goal is let’s keep the communication lines open, work together and remain diligent in our efforts to protect the livestock industry in this state.
On a side note if you have not had the opportunity to meet me yet the office is hosting a celebration on March 30 from 1-5 at the Extension office located at 1800 12th St. This is a congratulations/farewell to Dolores Newell our part time office professional who is retiring as well as a meet and greet for me the new ag agent, hope to see you then.