Animal Health Symposium
By Anne Zinn
On the afternoon of July 21, 2020, conference attendees gathered virtually for the Animal Health Symposium as part of the ASAS-CSAS-WSASAS Virtual Annual Meeting. The focus of this session was biosecurity, specifically on swine farms. The session began with the presentation of the Animal Industry Service Award, given to Jason Woodworth of Kansas State University. Woodworth then kicked off the sesion calling for applying the on-farm biosecurity culture to the feedmills as a way to help prevent disease introduction into swine farms. While feed and ingredients can be vectors of disease and pathogen transmission, Woodworth explained that the data continues to show that people are a major risk for pathogen transmission throughout the feed supply chain; research conducted with PEDV and African Swine Fever Virus has demonstrated that adopting key biosecurity principles at the feedmill will reduce risk of disease and pathogen exposure on farms. The next presentation, given by Scott Merril, Research Assistant Professor at the University of Vermont, emphasized Woodworth’s point by discussing a systems approach to understanding biosecurity decision-making as it relates to human behavior and the importance of investing preventative biosecurity to reduce the likelihood of disease incursions and their negative impact on the livestock industry. Merril outlined the implications of human behavior and decision-making for biosecurity implications and how the emergence of now-endemic diseases cannot be adequately modeled without the use of a human behavioral component; the results Merril shared provide insight toward developing more effective risk mitigation strategies and ways to nudge behavior toward more disease resilient systems.
To follow, Lee Schulz (Iowa State University) discussed the economic perspective on biosecurity decision-making and shared survey results that suggest producers and operators had diverse views on expected frequency of disease outbreaks, anticipated disease duration, and possible financial impact on operations. Then, Joel Iverson (University of Montana) explored the function of communities of practice in crisis situations, such as outbreaks of diseases like Porcine Epidemic Diarrhea virus or African Swine Fever. Iverson went on to provide a series of best practices for designing messages that effectively promote biosecurity through strategic communication. To conclude the session, Iverson presented for Dr. Jeannette McDonald, Executive Director of TLC Projects, LLC, who was not available this afternoon. He presented on educational tools that can be used to promote biosecurity through discovery learning. Iverson outlined and provided a demonstration of the Healthy Farms Healthy Agriculture website, designed to help existing and future farmers and ranchers discover how to create and implement a biosecurity plan for their livestock farms.
A recording of the full symposium can be found on the ASAS-CSAS-WSASAS Virtual Annual Meeting website.