Weekly equine and livestock news: July 18, 2022

Lincoln Memorial University to launch Equine Veterinary Education Program

Lincoln Memorial University is launching an Equine Veterinary Education Program, with plans to welcome students in fall 2023. “The developing program will be unlike any offered among the 30 veterinary schools in the United States as it will be composed of a two and a half-year undergraduate program, followed by a four-year veterinary doctoral program with a strong emphasis on equine veterinary medicine,” according to the announcement. It will also offer a summer immersive experience for students with ranches, Thoroughbred farms, professional trainers and veterinary hospitals. “While key details are under development, we believe the addition of this program to Lincoln Memorial University will not only make LMU a standout university but will offer students an opportunity to achieve their dream to become equine veterinarians at a lower cost and with a much more targeted focus,” said LMU College of Veterinary Medicine dean Stacy Anderson. “Just as important too will be the goal of providing qualified equine veterinarians to a horse industry sorely in need of these professionals.”

Webinar will help veterinarians and cattle producers prepare for Asian longhorned tick spread

The National Cattlemen’s Beef Association, in conjunction with USDA, is hosting a two-day webinar to address concerns about the Asian longhorned tick and its possible impact on the U.S. cattle industry. The free event will take place August 23-24. The webinar aims to provide cattle producers, state animal health officials, veterinarians and other key stakeholders with current information from industry experts about how to identify and manage the tick. Veterinarians from currently affected states and USDA officials will discuss disease implications as well as possible treatment options and prevention of ticks on animals and in pastures. The Asian longhorned tick has spread to 17 states from the South to the East Coast since it was first found in the United States in 2017. It’s extremely aggressive and can cause stress and severe blood loss in cattle.

Australia officials worry residents will bring foot and mouth disease back from vacation

As vacationers flock to the Indonesian island of Bali this summer, Australian government officials are worried they may bring foot and mouth disease back with them. The disease has been spreading rapidly through cattle in Indonesia, and the first cases were recently confirmed in Bali. “Foot and mouth disease would be catastrophic if it were to arrive in Australia,” said the country’s first chief veterinary officer, Mark Schipp. It’s considered the greatest biosecurity threat to Australian livestock, and an outbreak could lead to mass culls of infected animals and shut down the country’s lucrative beef export market for years, CNN reports. “The impacts on farmers if foot and mouth gets in are too gut-wrenching to even contemplate,” said Fiona Simson, president of the National Farmers’ Federation. “But it’s not just about farmers. Wiping $80 billion off Australia’s GDP would be an economic disaster for everyone.” Officials are considering telling tourists visiting Indonesia to leave their flip-flops there, since they may carry disease traces.

Federal backlog of avian flu tests slows down Maine’s efforts to track the disease

Maine wildlife officials have been instructed to limit the number of specimens they submit for bird flu testing as backlogs at federal laboratories slow down efforts to track the disease’s spread, the Bangor Daily News reports. Officials are now assuming any sick or dying birds, especially waterfowl, are infected with H5N1 avian flu. This includes dozens of dead or dying seagulls spotted recently on Gooseberry Island off the coast of Biddeford. Without being able to confirm every case of suspected bird flu, it’s impossible to know how many wild bird deaths in Maine have been caused by the H5N1 variant. USDA’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service hasn’t added any cases in Maine since early spring. Only six labs nationwide conduct the necessary tests, according to Mark Latti, a spokesperson for the Maine Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife.

Legislation would transfer food safety oversight from FDA to Health and Human Services

Lawmakers in the U.S. House and Senate have introduced a bill to remove food safety oversight functions from the Food and Drug Administration and instead establish a Food Safety Administration in the Department of Health and Human Services. The bill would remove existing food safety programs within the FDA, with Senate confirmation required for leadership appointments. The bill doesn’t include USDA’s Food Safety and Inspection Service. “Right now, there are no food policy experts in charge of food safety at the FDA,” said U.S. Rep. Rosa DeLauro of Connecticut, who introduced the bill with Sen. Dick Durbin of Illinois. “That is unacceptable and contributes to a string of product contaminations and subsequent recalls that disrupt the supply chain, contribute to rising prices and in many cases result in consumer illness and death.” Under the bill, the FDA’s name would change to the Federal Drug Administration. The agency would retain oversight of drugs, cosmetics, devices, biological products, color additives and tobacco, according to Meat + Poultry.

Poultry industry executives acquitted in price-fixing case

Executives from Pilgrim’s Pride and Claxton Poultry were found not guilty by a federal jury of conspiring to drive up broiler chicken prices, Food Dive reports. The five executives include former Pilgrim’s Pride CEOs William Lovette and Jayson Penn, as well as a former vice president, Roger Austin; and current Claxton Poultry President Mikell Fries and Scott Brady, a vice president. The case was part of a yearslong investigation by the Justice Department of alleged price-fixing among poultry companies, which began in 2016 targeting 14 executives. It went to trial twice before, both times resulting in mistrials due to deadlocked juries. Prosecutors hoped bringing the new trial, with fewer defendants, would result in a guilty verdict. “Although we are disappointed in the verdict, we will continue to vigorously enforce the antitrust laws, especially when it comes to price-fixing schemes that affect core staples,” the department said in a statement to Bloomberg.