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K-State Today

November 20, 2017

National Agricultural Biosecurity Center awarded grant to continue development of the National Livestock Readiness Program

Submitted by Sarah Hancock

The U.S. Department of Homeland Security awarded $324,528 to the Kansas State University National Agricultural Biosecurity Center, or NABC, to enhance the capabilities of local, state, regional, tribal and national entities to respond effectively to animal disease outbreaks. The Food, Agriculture and Veterinary Defense Branch of the DHS Office of Health Affairs supplemented a previous award, bringing the two-year total award to $657,646.

The center is continuing to develop the National Livestock Readiness Program to direct local or state animal disease outbreak plan development and evaluation, outbreak response training and educational credentialing. The National Livestock Readiness Program is designed as a one-stop shop for planning, training and education resources to support preparedness and response capabilities for an animal disease outbreak.

"Our project aims to boost biodefense by filling a need for more effective information sharing," said Ken Burton, program director at the National Agricultural Biosecurity Center.

"Current response planning, training and education varies widely across the U.S. at local, state, tribal and territorial levels. We are working to coordinate those efforts," Burton said.

The center also is collaborating with the Kansas Department of Agriculture, state agricultural emergency response alliances and industry representatives to develop a curriculum to train new ag emergency response coordinators to enhance their knowledge of U.S. livestock and affiliated industries.

"Finding emergency response coordinators with agriculture backgrounds can prove relatively difficult, but we can develop resources to help them learn what they need to know," Burton said.

A beta version of the NLRP website is under review. The site includes a livestock emergency response planning toolkit, topic-based resources, information about workshops and more. An interactive component allows users to submit questions and receive a response within 24 hours.

The center also offers Animal Disease Response Training to emergency responders. The center's staff members have delivered 13 training sessions in Kansas and Nebraska in the last year and a half, with additional states interested in future sessions. Next steps will be developing executive-level training designed to help non-farm states and an advanced Animal Disease Response Training that goes beyond tabletop exercises. A class for public information officers who don’t have backgrounds in animal or crop health is also being considered.

Burton presented center's work on the National Livestock Readiness Program and Animal Disease Response Training efforts at last month's annual meeting of the United States Animal Health Association. The presentations were well received by conference attendees.

"Emergency response planners and departments of agriculture around the country are eager to have new resources and models to use to adequately prepare and train people and agencies to respond to agricultural emergencies," Burton said.

Beth Montelone, senior associate vice president for research, said the grant demonstrates the value of National Agricultural Biosecurity Center's efforts.

"Continued funding of NABC's National Livestock Readiness Program work is a vote of confidence in the excellent work they have already done. This advances K-State's reputation in ag biodefense," Montelone said.