USDA plans foreign animal disease exercise in September

Pork Checkoff
Farm Forum

In an ongoing effort to prepare the pork industry for a potential foreign animal disease (FAD), the USDA is working on a full-function FAD exercise that will be conducted the week of Sept. 23. It will focus on a fictional outbreak of African swine fever and the subsequent response by federal and state authorities, along with the rest of the pork industry.

The overall purpose of the exercise is to better prepare the U.S. pork industry and its stakeholders in the event of an actual FAD outbreak. Per the USDA’s Veterinary Services overview, the functional drill will focus on exercising plans, policies, procedures and staff members involved in management, direction, command and control functions.

During the exercise, participants will validate and evaluate capabilities, multiple functions/sub-functions or interdependent groups of functions. They also will respond to an exercise scenario with event updates in a realistic, real-time environment. In addition, participants will assess the adequacy of response plans and resources. The exercise simulates deployment of resources and personnel, involves rapid problem solving, creates a highly stressful environment and involves multiple functions.

“Everything in this type of exercise is done for a reason,” says Dave Pyburn, DVM, senior vice president of the National Pork Board’s science and technology department. “We’re trying to create a realistic scenario of a confirmed foreign animal disease in this country to see how each stakeholder reacts and to find the gaps that need more work. It’s about finding ways to improve to help protect our nation’s swine herd.”

To find out if your state is participating, contact your state pork association office.