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Smith has awarded two USDA grants for agricultural emergency preparedness projects

Preparedness…

The projects build on previous work led by Smith to support regional foreign animal disease prevention and preparedness

Preparing for U.S. animal husbandry emergencies means being prepared for the introduction of foreign animal diseases. These are high-risk diseases or pests not normally found in the US (Photo by Thomas Iversen on Unsplash)

BURLINGTON, Vt. –Dr. Julie Smith, research professor and veterinarian at the University of Vermont’s Department of Animal & Veterinary Sciences, has been awarded funding for two projects from the National Animal Disease Preparedness and Response Program (NADPRP). NADPRP is administered by the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service. One project is aimed at improving the mapping of emergency disease plans for livestock and poultry farmers; the other focuses on coordinating emergency response between state regulatory officials and dairy industry stakeholders. These projects build on previous work led by Smith to support regional foreign animal disease prevention and preparedness.

Preparing for U.S. animal husbandry emergencies means being prepared for the introduction of foreign animal diseases. These are high-risk diseases or pests that are not normally found in the US. For example, highly pathogenic bird flu type A, subtype H5N1, is a foreign animal disease that affects American poultry flocks. Earlier in 2024, a variant of H5N1 emerged in dairy cows. Biosecurity on farms (disease prevention measures) can reduce the risk of spread of foreign or emerging animal diseases.

For farmers, preparing for an outbreak of foreign animal diseases includes developing a Safe Food Supply Plan. The plan outlines procedures for implementing ‘enhanced’ biosecurity measures to help limit the exposure of farm animals to infections. The plans also pave the way for farmers to continue marketing their animals and animal products.

Mapping control points and critical areas of the farm is an important part of planning a safe food supply, but it can be difficult to do. With advance funding from NADPRP, Smith’s team at the University of Vermont developed a prototype web app to simplify the creation of such a map. The new grant will support the ‘packaging’ of the app and build in additional features and functionality, including visual accessibility.

“Demonstrations of the mapping app prototype were received with interest and enthusiasm by industry and academia stakeholders. Its ease of use and consistency with Secure Food Supply plans make it widely applicable across the livestock and poultry industries,” said Smith.

Smith worked with animal health and emergency disease officials, industry groups, dairy cooperatives and farmers for a previous project on regional safe food supply planning. The second new project funded through NADPRP also takes a collaborative approach.

“The process of gathering diverse perspectives, considering how information is shared, and then developing potential strategies and solutions can improve emergency response to a foreign animal disease outbreak,” Smith said. “These projects are intended to improve animal disease emergency planning in Vermont and the New England region.”

Both projects are made possible through cooperative agreements from the USDA Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS). They do not necessarily reflect the views of APHIS.

–College for Agriculture and Life Sciences
University of Vermont

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