When Disease Hits a Small Farm

After one of his herd tested positive for TB, a Michigan farmer found himself in a bureaucratic tangle that may put him out of business

When federal and state agriculture regulators learn of a potential farm disease outbreak, they quickly move in to isolate it by slaughtering not only diseased animals, but other animals that may have been exposed to the diseased animals, and quarantining the affected farms. Just such a containment process is currently under way in Britain to contain Avian flu in turkeys (see BusinessWeek.com, 2/5/07, "Bird Flu Outbreak Rattles Britain"). And recently gaining attention is a two-year-old USDA program called the National Animal Identification System (NAIS), under which approximately 500 million-plus farm animals are to be identified via special digital tags, with the goal of speeding up the disease-identification/containment process.

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