In record time, sweeping new powers were granted to North Carolina’s state veterinarian to combat the possible spread of foot-and-mouth disease or other highly contagious livestock diseases. In the event of an outbreak, the state’s top animal-health official can now move immediately in these ways:

  • Search farms and vehicles without a warrant.
  • Destroy suspect animals without the owner’s consent.
  • Ban movement of livestock within the state.
  • Order the destruction of deer and other wildlife suspected of carrying FMD.

In the event of an FMD outbreak in North Carolina, state veterinarian David Marshall, told Pork magazine that his office would move immediately to contain it. Ideally, he said, animals with the disease should be killed and burned or buried within two hours of disease confirmation.

Under the new law, Marshall is required to consult with the governor upon proceeding with any of the outlined measures. The North Carolina Commissioner of Agriculture, Meg Scott Phipps, assured legislators and citizens that the strong law would be used judiciously in emergency situations and not be abused.

The law has a “sunset clause” and will expire automatically in 2003.