When a foreign animal disease outbreak hits, state veterinarians have the final say. Getting to know your state veterinarian is critical, says National Pork Producers Council’s chief veterinarian Liz Wagstrom, DVM.
“State veterinarians make the decisions at the time of an outbreak for permitting movements of animals, either within a state or accepting animals from across state lines. They have quarantine authority and will be leading investigations, looking for susceptible animals and more,” Wagstrom says. “They’ll be cooperating with USDA, but the states carry most of that responsibility.”
Wagstrom offers three tips to help you get to know your state vet better.
1. Find out who your state veterinarian is.
Your local veterinarian should know who the state and area veterinarians are, but it doesn’t hurt to ask and make sure you are all connected and introduced. Your state animal health official should have a website that lists area veterinary medical officers (VMOs).
2. Invite them to visit your farm.
Invite the state veterinarian or your area’s VMO to your farm to evaluate your preparedness plan, take a look around your farm and open up a general discussion about what you should do in case of an emergency or foreign animal disease outbreak.
3. Add your state veterinarian's phone number to your phone and post throughout buildings.
Put the state veterinarian and area VMO’s phone number in your phone and post in buildings on your farms. Wagstrom adds that there is also a USDA area veterinarian in charge (AVIC) in each state.
“If you have a widespread production system, you may have multiple area VMOs, but knowing at least two would be good,” Wagstrom says. “Virtually all of them have an after-hours emergency number that would be wise to have in your phone, too.”
Raise Your Hand
Wagstrom encourages producers to take the relationship one step further and offer to be a part of USDA’s tabletop exercises. Producers, stakeholders and veterinarians recently participated in a tabletop exercise in Minnesota on April 25 and 26.
“Let them know that you understand these exercises are going on and would be happy to be involved during the next one in September,” Wagstrom suggests.
The exercises are organized by USDA and will include the top 13 pork-producing states at this time, she adds. Stakeholders from Mexico and Canada have been invited to participate in the September exercise.