Do you know what would happen to your milk if a Foot and Mouth Disease outbreak hit tomorrow? Truthfully, I never thought about milk during a cattle disease outbreak because I’ve never be able to get past thinking of the cattle: hold orders, movement restraints, export loss etc.
Luckily there are people who think about all aspects of disease outbreaks and a few weeks ago I got to train with them at a Mid-Atlantic Secure Milk Supply Pilot Training Program.
The basics of the Secure Milk Supply Plan is to keep milk moving by permiting farms to ship milk based on animal health assessments and some super strict biosecurity measures even if they are in a FMD “control zone”. This is a pretty big deal. Sometimes a control zone can be an entire state.
Foot and Mouth Disease is not a zoonotic disease by nature. It is a cattle (and pig and sheep and all hooved animal) disease. Milk from FMD infected cows is still safe for human consumption but would not be processed merely because of its’ potential to infect other livestock. Virus can be shed in milk. A farm that had FMD positive cattle would not be shipping any milk or moving any cows. Consequently, farms within X miles of farms that had FMD positive cattle would not be shipping milk or moving cows either, even if they do not have FMD positive cows.
Animal and animal byproduct movement restrictions are critical to disease mitigation but can have huge negative economic impacts. Dairy farmers need a milk check. And dairy processing plants need milk to process. That’s why we plan.