Business continuity

Developing tools to support the ability of animal agriculture to maintain movement of livestock, poultry and their products.


In the agricultural sector, business continuity planning focuses on the following principles:

  • Protecting animal health; by reducing the spread of disease
  • Maintaining or quickly resuming normal business operations after an outbreak
  • Minimizing impact on domestic and international trade or movement of animals or animal products
  • Regionalizing the response to disease
  • Compartmentalizing production systems where appropriate
  • Implementing biosecurity practices for future protection

Agricultural businesses work on a “just in time” delivery system and lack the capacity to store large amounts of fresh products for even short periods of time. The food animal portion of the agriculture industry heavily relies on continuous animal movement, feed delivery, supply delivery and product movement (milk, eggs, etc.) on and off farms as part of their normal business structure. Milk, eggs and egg products cannot be stored on a farm for more than 48 hours.1, 2 Exceeding this storage limit can lead to a loss of $94,000 to $250,000 per day for a typical Midwest egg production facility.3 These effects would soon be passed on to consumers as grocery stores and restaurants would likely run out of eggs in 24 to 48 hours following an animal disease outbreak.12

The ability to move animals on and off premises is essential to animal welfare. In the event of an intentional or accidental introduction of a foreign animal disease, stop movement orders would be implemented through the state veterinarian incident command under the authority of the secretary of agriculture until an investigation could be carried out and all infected, at-risk and suspect premises identified.4 During a stop movement order, critical space and feed issues would arise in a short amount of time as livestock operations would need to continue to receive items necessary to feed, water and ensure the health of their animals.

Business-ContinuityResumption of normal business operations requires a systematic, evidence-based demonstration of freedom from disease.4-6 Those entities able to demonstrate compliance with the requirements of sector-specific business continuity plans – such as the Secure Food Supply Plans in various industries – and biosecurity programs will have the mechanisms they need to show freedom of disease and to more quickly resume their business operations. These mechanisms may allow risk-based movement of animals and animal products off premises with demonstrated negative status –  an important component to minimizing negative effects on the economy, agriculture and public health.

IIAD’s Business Continuity project focuses on supporting planning for the agricultural sector by providing the decision maker with ready access to real-time data in order to cope with the dynamic nature of an animal disease emergency. In order to enhance resources available to the decision-maker, the information system supports customization based on the types of decisions that have to be made. Through partnerships with the the Center for Food Security and Public Health, State Animal Health Officials, the National Pork Board, and producers, IIAD has developed tools to support the information sharing required for implementation of the Secure Pork Supply Plan. This plan – and similar plans in other industries – are critical to maintaining continuity of business during an animal disease outbreak. The Institute has also developed tools supporting data collection for the Secure Egg Supply Plan in Iowa that is capturing 99 percent of egg premises data in the state, and a survey tool to collect business operations information for the Secure Milk Supply Plan in six New England states. The most comprehensive initiative, however, has been focused data linkages necessary to support implementation of the Secure Pork Supply Plan.

Critical-ActivitiesObjectively, business continuity is about returning to normal business processes and activities as quickly as possible with the understanding that this may require several steps. The critical concept of Figure 2 is the role that business continuity plans will play in the “start-up” and permitting of movement from well-characterized premises and within zones.

IIAD–developed tools supporting business continuity and industry confidence in the ability of IIAD researchers to securely link to sensitive information will help facilitate smooth implementation of the Secure Food Supply Plans by supplying decision-makers with the data needed to implement management of movement. The shared situational awareness enabled by IIAD tools is critical to the effectiveness of business continuity planning and operations.

In addition to developing technologies to support implementation of the Secure Food Supply Plans, IIAD is concurrently developing agricultural screening tools to provide rapid and accurate information on animal and premise health status. Assays developed under these projects will help support decisions that will allow for permitting and movement of animals and animal products.

IIAD principal investigators have played a key role in the bulk-tank milk project – an extensive collaboration among many partners to modify the existing U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) polymerase chain reaction assay for detection of foot-and-mouth disease virus using pooled milk samples. The assay is critically needed for supporting the Secure Milk Supply Plan to allow testing and movement of milk from uninfected premises during a Foot and Mouth Disease outbreak. The Texas A&M Veterinary Medical Diagnostic Laboratory, a collaborator in this effort, developed the internal positive control reagents used to monitor assay performance and transferred them to USDA’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) Foreign Animal Disease Defense Laboratory (FADDL) for inclusion in this assay. This same reagent has also been transferred to USDA National Veterinary Services Laboratories and the California Animal Health and Food Safety Laboratory for use in additional veterinary diagnostic assays. Validation and transition of this assay supports a critical need for the U.S. dairy industry.

The oral fluids project has focused on the development of two multiplexed assays for use with swine oral fluid samples for transboundary disease detection – a method that was prioritized by the swine industry during a series of workshops. It can readily be utilized as a “pooled sample” and is already being collected throughout many swine operations for endemic disease surveillance. IIAD principal investigators have developed and transitioned two assays for this sample matrix (one for endemic diseases and one for foreign animal diseases) to USDA’s APHIS FADDL for continued development and validation. This project has also teamed with a complementary effort funded by the National Pork Board, which coordinates the shipment of experimental oral fluid samples from classical swine fever–infected swine from Thailand to the Plum Island Animal Disease Center (PIADC). IIAD personnel also traveled to PIADC to help with the early development and validation stages of these assays. Additional work is needed to transition the proof -of-concept protocols to the National Animal Health Laboratory Network.


  • Homeland Security Presidential Directive 7 — Critical Infrastructure Identification, Prioritization, and Protection. December 2003.
  • Trampel DW, et al. A federal and state transport plan for movement of eggs and egg products from commercial egg production premises in a high-pathogenicity avian influenza control area. JAV MA, 2009. 235(12): 1412-19.
  • Hullinger PJ, et al. Foot and mouth disease continuity of business planning for the U.S. dairy industry. Prehosp Disaster Med, 2011. 26(Supple. 1): s53.
  • REEIS Report. Federal and State Transport Plan for Movement of Egg Products. 2008.
  • FAD PReP — APHIS Framework for Foreign Animal Disease Preparedness and Response. DRAFT July 2010.
  • USDA. FAD PReP — Swine Industry Manual. March 2011.