WASHINGTON: The US government and meat industry groups are working
to communicate the importance of crisis preparation should
foot-and-mouth disease hit the nation's livestock.
The last US case was in 1929, but the disease has reached crisis levels
in the UK. The meat industry also fears that media coverage may
exaggerate any potential problem.
The National Meat Association (NMA) has created a crisis management
guide with its PR firm, Edelman. NMA's newsletter also emphasizes the
importance of crisis drills, rather than just relying on a manual if the
The National Cattleman's Beef Association (NCBA) has put out a
newsletter with crisis advice, and includes a detailed overview of the
USDA plan on its Web site.
Articles in The New York Times and USA Today reported on a strategy
meeting held last week with 75 federal agencies, including the
Department of Agriculture, the CIA and the Coast Guard. The stories
suggest that containing the problem would require instant action, akin
to a disaster response.
The USA Today headline - 'Foot-and-mouth 'probable' in US' - has angered
some. 'I thought it was atrocious.' said Alisa Harrison, executive
director of PR at NCBA. 'The media just needs to chill out.'