Securing the US Beef Supply

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by John Maday, Editor, Bovine Veterinarian 

If foot-and-mouth disease (FMD) ever reaches the shores of the United States, initial priorities will be to contain and eradicate the disease. At the same time though, the livestock industry will need to continue operating. The ability to market animals and animal products with minimal risk of spreading the virus to uninfected herds is critical to maintaining continuity of business.

The Secure Beef Supply (SBS) plan is the latest initiative within the overall Secure Food Supply program. The SBS plan is funded by USDA in cooperation with the Center for Food Security and Public Health (CFSPH) at Iowa State University, which collaborates with other universities, organizations and industry stakeholders.

Danelle Bickett-Weddle, DVM, MPH, PhD, DACVPM and the associate director at CFSPH, says the SBS plan is intended to identify and address issues to better prepare government and industry to enable business continuity for the beef industry, starting with feedlots, in the event of an FMD outbreak. Its overall goal is to maintain business continuity for beef producers and processors and provide a continuous supply of beef products for consumers in the event of such an outbreak.

Development of the SBS plan was delayed until after those for eggs, pork and dairy had been drafted, not because beef is a lower priority, but for practical reasons related to the nature of beef production. First, in the event of an outbreak, feedyards and cattle producers at other production stages could potentially “warehouse” cattle for some time. Doing so would result in some economic losses but not of the scope that dairies or egg operations would face if they had to discard days or weeks worth of their perishable products. Farrow-to-finish swine operations also face tight marketing windows for finished hogs as they need to make space for subsequent generations moving through the system.

Also, the beef industry is a complex system, with cattle typically changing hands and locations at several production stages. The plan’s coordinators believed they could benefit by drawing upon lessons learned in the development of the plans for other species.

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Source:  Cattle Trader Center

 

  • Photo by USDA NRCS


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