Rehearsing to Prevent Foreign Animal Disease Outbreaks

Imagine a large tabletop filled with a model-scale display of buildings, trucks, roads, homes, a processing plant, and pigs. This model serves a purpose in foreign animal disease, or FAD, preparation through tabletop exercises. Jesse Heimer, a show pig producer from Missouri, participated in a recent exercise.

”We were able to see the direct cause and effect between what happens to each individual party around the table when something happens like a foreign animal disease outbreak, and we can all talk about it in a boardroom, or we can talk about it at the coffee shop, or we can talk about it in conversation.”

In Checkoff-funded tabletop exercises, each group develops an operational plan, submits their plan for approval, and seeks supplies. However, if supplies are not available, adjustments are mandatory.

“But the tabletop is an entirely different experience, because it really does give you the visual side of what happens in an event like this. And we talk through the scenarios that could be very likely. And those are things that you can talk about, but to see it and do it as you’re talking about it has a lot of value.”

Participants wade through many decisions and potential obstacles, elevating the need for an emergency operations center and reaffirming that producers and veterinarians need to be part of the FAD response. This hypothetical show pig scenario focused on a swine show at the edge of town with pigs from Indiana.

“And so, working through that scenario and trying to figure out who was at the show. Were they from Indiana? Where in Indiana were they from? Did they have any contact to that affected farm? And working through that process was a pretty complicated scenario, really on its face. But to work through it, it’s a very real one, and it was a great experience as a producer.”

Visit to learn how producers can be more prepared for a foreign animal disease outbreak.