If there were to be a major disease infection or other contamination in the U.S. livestock population, testing and clean up won't come easily. It would be nice to think that people raising the animals would embrace the mindset that it's "for the good of the whole"-- best for the animal, the industry, themselves. But that's not likely to be the case.
While the public would expect differently, it will be those running the largest operations who will cooperate first and most fully. Yes, they have the most to lose, but they also see and accept the responsibility behind the actions. No, that's not to say that folks running smaller operations are not responsible, the majority certainly are. As with all things, it's a few that create the greatest challenges for the whole.
There are plenty of signs that the road will be rocky as some producers continue to fight against USDA's National Animal Identification System, which is designed for 48-hour traceback in a disease emergency.
A recent example of how touchy these situations can be surfaced in Michigan as a Charlevoix County sheriff had to serve an East Jordan farmer with an administrative search warrant to allow state and federal agents to tag, test and document his cattle for bovine TB. The farmer refused to allow agents from the Michigan or USDA personnel on his property without a warrant, maintaining his animals were not subject to the tests.
A group of local friends and other farmers assembled in support as the sheriff presented the warrant and three inspectors. The warrant stated that testing was to be performed by a State of Michigan accredited veterinarian on all animals on the 160-acre farm that were eligible for bovine TB testing under state law.
This ended well, but it's a scary proposition because emotions and tempers run high when it comes to animal identification, premises registration, disease testing and government involvement.
The take-home message in this example is there will continue to be a long and rocky road ahead for NAIS and many other related issues. Meanwhile, cross your fingers that a foreign animal disease or other contaminant doesn't find its way here.