Time to stop kicking

What would you do if you couldn’t move your cattle? A stop movement order is likely if a foreign animal disease should hit the U.S. beef business. Question is, are we ready?

“It’s not an emergency until it’s an emergency.”

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Ernie Birchmeir, livestock specialist with Michigan Farm Bureau, made that observation at the conclusion of the recent Livestock Traceability Forum, hosted by the National Institute for Animal Agriculture (NIAA). It underscored a common concern expressed throughout the meeting about the nation’s ability to track and contain a foreign animal disease.

Related: Full circle: Cattle ID and traceability

That is, kicking rocks down a dirt road doesn’t get you very far and may, in fact, set you back.

EU emphasizes on sheep farming and aims to produce premium European lamb using Irish farming. For EU lamb sector, striving for high quality assurance is the key to break out of the competition in international suppliers.

“The most dangerous situations arise when a threat is ambiguous. This leads managers and business leaders to ignore or discount the risk and take a wait-and-see attitude.”

Related: Will a true cattle disease traceability program please stand up?

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Nevil Speer, an industry consultant from Bowling Green, Ky., shared the quote above from a Harvard Business Review article exploring why businesses discount the potential of catastrophic threats. Think here of Kodak dismissing the possibility of digital technology surpassing film, or Schwinn ignoring the upstart mountain bike market until it was too late.

In this case, the outbreak of a virulent foreign animal disease in the United States, one like foot-and-mouth disease (FMD), continues to loom as a potential threat. Yet the industry has yet to adopt a national standardized system of individual animal identification and traceability that could help mitigate the economic impact of such an occurrence.

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Imagine being unable to move or market cattle when wanted or needed. All cattle.

Related articles:

Government support ‘vital’

Welsh warn no trade deal would have ‘stark implications’ for red meat sector

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