Agro-Security Critical for all Farms and Ranches



Many people involved in agriculture believe that agro-security centers around large farms and ranches with multiple buildings housing chickens and swine.  They picture workers and visitors suiting up in white plastic coveralls with hair nets and booties dipped in disinfectant.

However, in many cases, agro-security is paramount to keeping your animals from contracting a contagious disease, whether it’s quarantining a new horse or not sharing water buckets at a 4-H show.

“We frequently think of agro-security focusing around a big disease, such as avian flu or hoof and mouth disease,” notes Jeanne Rankin, DVM, who spoke on agro-security at Montana Farm Bureau’s Summer Conference last month in Sidney. “These are very serious, quickly spreading diseases.  Foot and Mouth (cloven hoofed livestock), High Pathogenic Avian Influenza, Vesicular Stomatitis (all livestock including horses) and other contagious diseases can even be passed around by someone in a delivery truck driving onto your place.”

Rankin explains that once Foreign Animal diseases are detected, often herds and flocks are depopulated and international trade is stopped immediately which has a devastating effect on everyone from breeders to the middleman to consumers.  It’s important to prevent spread of any disease and take action when necessary.

“You can do a lot of your own bio-security. For instance, use your own good sense. If you buy a bull or bring an animal back from a show, don’t just dump him out with the others. Do a two-week quarantine with separate feed buckets, water buckets, and don’t allow your livestock to rub noses with other animals. Remember, some diseases spread on clothes, so be aware of that,” the veterinarian says. “Bio-security can be something as simple as using separate cleaning utensils for sick pens and healthy pens, and having different forks for the hay pile and the manure pile and changing your boots, coveralls and gloves between attending to sick and healthy animals. It’s wise to limit access to your animals from foreign visitors, especially if they are from a country where disease is known to exist.”

If you do have an animal that comes down with sores or is drooling, call your vet immediately. “It’s important to get a local accredited state veterinarian to your place because if there is a disease, movement can be stopped and the impact to your herd is contained,” Rankin cautions. “Your vet can contact the state vet if the disease is suspected, and sampling and investigation must be done by a specially trained veterinarian known as a Foreign Animal Disease Diagnostician (FADD) within 24 hours of receiving the report. Laboratory diagnosis is done by the National Veterinary Lab at Plum Island, NY.”

“We are working to get people trained in handling animal medical emergencies,” says Rankin. “We are trying to spread the word about what to do if FMD, VS, Swine Vesicular Disease, or another disease is suspected. State and federal veterinary agencies will be involved if it is a foreign animal disease but all emergencies are local in impact and response.”

It’s very important to have an Agriculture/Animal Emergency Preparedness team in place and a hierarchy for when a disease does strike. It’s so significant that many people are involved, from producers and Extension to agricultural organizations, feed stores and non-government agencies. 

More information may be found at or on the Extension Disaster Education Network:



Source:  Montana Farm Bureau Federation

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