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Vermont Dairy Mapping Project

Photo source: Shelburne Farms

The Potential for a Foreign Animal Disease Disaster

Some foreign animal diseases (FAD) are highly infectious and can cause mass casualties in livestock and poultry. These diseases are not normally found in the United States and U.S. territories but have the potential to cause significant animal health and economic impacts. The FAD known as foot-and-mouth disease (FMD) is the most contagious foreign animal disease of cloven-hooved animals such as cows, pigs, goats and sheep.

This type of high consequence disease has the potential to send milk prices plummeting, interrupt animal and product movements, and require quarantine and depopulation of affected livestock

The Biosecurity Mapping Project

During the summer of 2023, UVM Research Associate Professor Julie SmithOpens a new window will embark on the Vermont Dairy Mapping Project, to help farmers use a map planning tool to prepare their response to a foreign animal disease introduction, such as foot-and-mouth diseaseOpens a new window.

Smith and veterinary student interns will work with 40 Vermont dairy farms to introduce preparedness resources, including a newly developed biosecurity mapping tool, the Secure Ag Farm Mapping App. The mapping app was developed by students working with UVM’s Social Ecological Gaming and Simulation LaboratoryOpens a new window (SEGS Lab), with oversight by Managing Director Dr. Scott MerrillOpens a new window. The app assists with the creation of enhanced biosecurity maps based on an aerial view of the farm. It is flexible enough to be used for mapping hazards or other features of the farm for training purposes, too.

An aerial map of a Vermont dairy farm, with markings to identify biosecurity areas.
A Vermont dairy farm map with markings to identify biosecurity zones, paths and points.

Vermont Dairy Mapping Project Goals

The goal of this project is to enhance the readiness of Vermont dairy farms, to quickly implement the level of biosecurity required in the event of a foot-and-mouth disease outbreak.

Plans will be created using the enhanced biosecurity plan template developed by the Secure Milk SupplyOpens a new window project, or the National Milk Producers Federation Farmers Assuring Responsible Management programOpens a new window (based on the Secure Milk Supply plan). The mapping app created by the University of Vermont (with National Animal Disease Response and Preparedness Program funds) will facilitate the development of the enhanced biosecurity map component of the plans.

By scheduling visits with up to eight farms a week over a six-week period of time, the target number of 40 farms with plans can be met. In addition to returning completed plans to the participating farms, the interns will complete a project report and submit an abstract (poster or oral) to present at a national veterinary meeting such as the American Association of Bovine PractitionersOpens a new window or the US Animal Health AssociationOpens a new window.

Funding is provided through:

  1. The George H. Walker Milk Research Fund.
  2. Farm Bill funding through the USDA APHIS Veterinary Services (VS) National Animal Disease Preparedness and Response Program (NADPRP) under cooperative agreement AP21VSSP0000C008.
  3. An Agriculture and Food Research Initiative Competitive Grant 2022-69014-37041 from the USDA National Institute of Food and Agriculture.

Enhanced Biosecurity Internship

Three Holstein dairy cows standing together in a barn, looking at the camera.

Mentor: Julie Smith, DVM, PhD
Research Associate Professor, Animal & Veterinary Sciences
University of Vermont

Contact: Click here to contact Dr. Smith for additional details.

Location: Vermont

Timeframe: Six weeks, from late May to July 7, 2023

Eligibility: Veterinary students entering their second or third year.

The goal of this internship is for two veterinary students to engage in research and application of biosecurity principles to dairy farms in support of secure food supply initiatives. Students are expected to learn about secure food supply planning and develop enhanced biosecurity plans. They will participate in ongoing research by pilot testing a mapping app and conducting interviews as time allows.

Students will use biosecurity templates developed through the Farmers Assuring Responsible Management program and Secure Milk Supply guidance to assist Vermont dairy farmers in completing enhanced biosecurity plans customized for their operation.

Students may participate in ongoing research studies regarding awareness and attitudes towards enhanced biosecurity and foreign animal disease preparedness.

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