FMD and Prevention
Watch this video to learn more about foot-and-mouth disease. 
How does FMD affect consumers?

FMD is not a public health concern but an outbreak could ultimately threaten the entire U.S. economy. Click here to find out more.

What can livestock producers do?
Being prepared and informed is essential in keeping your farm and the U.S. livestock industry free from FMD. Get more information here.

Fact Sheet: Industry Economics 

The Economic Effect of Foot-and-Mouth Disease
Foot-and-mouth disease (FMD) is an economically devastating disease. It is highly contagious and has the potential to spread widely and rapidly, debilitating cloven-hoofed animals, such as cattle, swine, sheep, goats, and deer. The rapid spread of FMD can cause severe meat production losses; therefore, a widespread outbreak of the disease in any country would create disastrous economic consequences. Analysts estimate an FMD outbreak in the United States could potentially cost the country’s livestock industry billions of dollars in just 12 months.

Why is FMD an economic concern?
FMD is a highly contagious viral disease of cloven-hoofed  animals such as cattle, bison, swine, sheep, goats and deer. FMD often is referred to as an economic disease because of the magnitude of economic harm that would result from production losses of livestock and severe restriction of agricultural exports. 

Economic loss in the U.K. 2001 FMD outbreak
The 2001 FMD outbreak in the United Kingdom affected approximately 10 million animals. Estimates of the total economic impact vary, but some estimates suggest the cost to be £8.6 billion, which is equivalent to about $14 billion.

Types of economic losses during an FMD outbreak
An FMD outbreak has the potential to cause enormous economic losses to not only livestock producers, but also to auction markets, slaughterhouses, food processors and related industries, as well as consumers. The economic consequences also include trade disruptions and decreased tourism.  The size of the outbreak can determine the range and magnitude of the impact, and outlined below are several losses associated with a FMD outbreak:

  • Production losses: Direct production losses would result from lost animals in depopulated premises and industries linked to the livestock sector, such as slaughterhouses or processors. Because infected premises cannot return to full production for at least 60 days after cleaning and disinfection, additional losses would be linked to limited production after an outbreak.
  • Disease eradication costs: Eradication costs include those for quarantine enforcement, euthanizing and disposing of infected animals, compensating producers for destroyed animals and cleaning and disinfecting affected premises.
  • Trade losses: The World Organization for Animal Health (OIE) ensures transparency on the global incidence of animal diseases such as FMD. An FMD-free country, such as the United States, can restrict meat imports from countries that are not FMD free, with trade limited to certain types of meat (e.g., processed meat).

Models predicting economic loss
Because the United States hasn’t had an FMD outbreak since 1929, various models have been developed to predict the possible economic loss in a current-day outbreak situation.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS), the California Department of Food and Agriculture and the School of Veterinary Medicine at the University of California-Davis conducted a study that analyzed the potential economic impacts of an FMD outbreak. Different scenarios were analyzed for a hypothetical FMD outbreak in the South Valley (Fresno, Kern, Kings and Tulare counties) and a hypothetical outbreak affecting the entire San Joaquin and Chino Valleys. The total cost of the outbreak scenarios ranged from approximately $7 billion to $13.5 billion.

A 2007 article in the Journal of Agricultural and Applied Economics reported a study demonstrating the local economic impact of an FMD outbreak in southwest Kansas using three disease-introduction scenarios: introduction of FMD at a cow-calf operation, a medium-sized feedlot and simultaneously at five large feedlots. Using this model, the estimated economic impact on the local economy ranged from a loss of about $35 million to $1 billion.

A 2013 study from Pirbright Institute and the Royal Veterinary College researchers in the United Kingdom published in a 2013 edition of the Preventive Veterinary Medicine journal estimated the annual cost of FMD in terms of visible production losses and vaccination in endemic regions alone to amount to between $6.5 and 21 billion. Outbreaks in FMD-free countries and zones are estimated to cause losses of $1.5 billion a year.

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