That was the question of the day last Thursday during an agroterrorism awareness and planning meeting held in Marshall as part of a series of meetings around the state sponsored by the Missouri Department of Agriculture.
Southern District Commissioner Dick Hassler reported Tuesday morning that about 22 persons, including several veterinarians, attended the Dec. 8 meeting despite the first big snow event of the winter.
The day-long meeting focused on how county officials and others, including veterinarians and law enforcement agencies, would react in the event of an agroterrorism event or ag-related disease hitting the county. It also outlined which entities are responsible for which functions in the event of an emergency.
Hassler said the second part of the meeting was dedicated to tabletop simulations. The group he was a part of was given the scenario of four lots of cattle purchased at a sales barn and headed to the county, with questions raised about how the cattle were put together into lots for sale and then a news report stating the animals may have been exposed to hoof-and-mouth disease. The group was asked what would be done, assuming the animals were stopped in the county.
Hassler reported the animals would have to be quarantined, and, in the case described, a quarantine would also effect all other livestock within a 2.2-mile radius of wherever the animals were housed. Further, he said the animals would have to be unloaded in a relatively short time and, if they were found to be carrying the disease, any wooden structures used to transport or house the cattle would have to be destroyed by burning.
Humans, while they are not at risk of hoof-and-mouth disease in the same way as they are for "mad cow" disease, can carry the ailment to other livestock.
Hassler said the day and tabletop scenarios raised several hard questions while pointing out some of the potential effects of an ag-related disease outbreak or agroterrorism event.
Contact Mark Lile at