Biosecurity better, but more to do

egg layersThe former chief veterinary officer at USDA-APHIS—the Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service—says livestock producers are likely going to have to do more to protect their operations from disease outbreaks.

Dr. John Clifford, who is now the chief trade advisor for APHIS veterinary services, says the rapid spread of the Porcine Epidemic Diarrhea Virus (PEDv) in swine and Highly Pathogenic Avian Influenza in poultry exposed weaknesses in the U.S. biosecurity system.

“Since then, I think the industry—both in the swine industry and the poultry industry—have been very good about stepping up their level of biosecurity in the U.S.,” Clifford says. “Now is it good enough? I don’t know. But I think we need to be very diligent and continue to work in this area and increase our level of biosecurity to meet these new possible threats.”

Clifford suggests large livestock and poultry operations appoint a biosecurity officer, a person (or persons) to be in charge of biosecurity.

“It’s just like food security and safety in a restaurant, where if you have a changeover of personnel, it’s continual training and making sure people are handling those products appropriately,” he says. “It’s the same way on the farm—making sure that biosecurity is practiced daily and that any time you have a new hire, they’re retrained and refocused and continually updated.

“It only takes once to have a small break—and then the next thing you know, you can be out of business.”

Clifford spoke with Brownfield at the recent National Institute for Animal Agriculture conference in Kansas City. Improving biosecurity for animal agriculture was the theme of that conference.

AUDIO: Dr. John Clifford

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