WLIC Discusses Importance of Animal Disease Traceability During 2024 Annual Meeting, Elects Officers

Madison, Wis. (April 8, 2024) – The Wisconsin Livestock Identification Consortium (WLIC) held its annual meeting on Wednesday, April 3 at the Department of Agriculture, Trade and Consumer Protection (DATCP), discussing the importance of animal disease traceability in light of cattle and humans testing positive for Highly Pathogenic Avian Influenza (HPAI) less than two weeks prior.

The annual meeting kicked off with a welcome by DATCP Secretary Randy Romanski, thanking WLIC members for the ongoing partnership that helps protect Wisconsin’s livestock industry and acknowledging its significance during scenarios such as the recent positive cases of the HPAI strain in cattle and humans.

Dr. Gretchen May, DVM, the Veterinary Program Manager at DATCP elaborated on the impact of HPAI since it was first detected in the U.S. in 2022. While Wisconsin experienced a reprieve for new cases of HPAI in the state for several months last year, the virus was once again detected last fall.

Dr. May also shared new resources available to livestock owners including an interactive map, showcasing areas in Wisconsin that are within a HPAI control or surveillance zone. Visitors to the online resource can mark their location and learn if they fall within either of these two zones areas, as well as what areas to avoid. Expanding this resource will also prove to be valuable for disease outbreaks that impact other species.

While HPAI has earned the nickname of ‘bird flu’, it was detected on a Texas dairy farm on March 25, 2024. The cow that tested positive exhibited a decrease in lactation, appetite and rumination. Within a few days, additional positive cases were also confirmed in Kansas, Michigan, New Mexico, and Idaho. Fortunately, pasteurization kills the virus so there are no concerns about the safety of meat and milk. As well, so far there have been no reported cases in Wisconsin.

As this situation remains ongoing, cattle owners are recommended to do the following:

  • Avoid unnecessary movements
  • Practice good biosecurity (including isolating additions and sick animals)
  • Consider testing additions

Livestock owners should remain vigilant of any changing movement requirements and to contact their veterinarian if any of their livestock exhibits signs of illness.

While this virus has been predominantly in poultry and limited other species of livestock, a dairy worker on the Texas dairy farm did test positive for HPAI. The farm worker is recovering and is the second person in the U.S. to test positive (the first was in 2022 in Colorado). The current risk to the public remains low. Specialists are in the early stages of learning more about this latest strain of HPAI and will share new information as it becomes available.

Another guest speaker for WLIC’s 2024 Annual Meeting featured Kurt Grajkowski, the Emergency Services Coordinator at DATCP. Mr. Grajkowski shared what a foreign animal disease response might look like and the process of livestock returning to that premises following an animal disease.

Within the first 24 hours of a foreign animal disease response, animal health officials will quarantine the premises and stop any animal movement to or from the infected premises, while also increasing biosecurity measures. Control areas and surveillance zones will be established. Depopulation and disposal planning and operations will also be initiated while also collecting information for the Emergency Management Response System (EMRS2).

Certain animal diseases cause a greater response, and there are three recognized as the top concerning diseases: African Swine Fever (ASF), Foot and Mouth Disease (FMD), and Highly Pathogenic Avian Influenza (HPAI). Depending on the situation, a 72-hour national transportation standstill may be initiated, which would be declared by the USDA Secretary. This stop-movement order would allow animal health officials to conduct tracing and gather information on the reach of the particular disease’s impact.

The role that WLIC plays in such scenarios is by equipping animal health officials with valuable contact information for livestock owners that may be impacted by such diseases in their area, but also to illustrate to the division of animal health how many premises are within certain areas of the state that may be at risk of contracting and spreading such diseases. Essentially, WLIC plays a vital role in helping mitigate the risk of animal disease spreading while also keeping livestock owners informed and safe.

During the business session, Executive Director Julie Sweney shared updates on total premises renewals completed so far for 2024, in 2023 and during the last renewal cycle in 2022. Mrs. Sweney shared the latest developments with the new software, CVI Central, allowing the WLIC staff to efficiently and accurately enter in CVI data on behalf of DATCP. She also gave an overview of the financial standing of the organization and its strategic plan for the future. With its focus on the next renewal cycle for 2025, WLIC is poised for an efficient renewal process while reaching more livestock owners than before to register and renew.  

“Animal disease traceability has always been a priority, especially today with the uncertainty surrounding the latest strain of HPAI,” said Sweney. “Working together with agricultural associations and industry leaders to help raise awareness of WLIC and the importance of being registered will only increase the efficacy of the traceability system we have in place.”

During the reorganization meeting for WLIC, Scott Schneider of Nature Link Farms was elected chair of the board, with John Haag of Haag Dairy representing the Professional Dairy Producers (PDPW) elected as vice-chair. Elected to serve as secretary was Rob Meier representing Equity Cooperative and Matt Crimmins representing Johnsonville Sausage was elected treasurer.

Newly elected to serve on the board were Kim Bremmer of the Wisconsin Farm Bureau Federation, Lexi Miller of World Dairy Expo, Nic Rue of Compeer Financial, Steve Springer of the Wisconsin Cattlemen’s Association, and Hannah Statz of the Wisconsin Beef Council.

Other members of the 12-person board include Vicki Janisch representing Dairy Farmers of Wisconsin, Betty Lund representing FarmFirst Dairy Cooperative and AV Roth of Roth Feeder Pigs representing Wisconsin Pork Association.

“To ensure Wisconsin’s livestock industry continues to thrive into the future, it is important we make premises registration a priority today,” said Sweney.

Wisconsin Livestock Identification Consortium (WLIC) is a private, non-profit (501c3) organization working to protect animal health through traceability by premises identification used to prevent the spread of livestock disease. For more information or to become a member or sponsor, visit www.wiid.org or call 888-808-1910.


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Madison, WI 53704

Phone: 1-888-808-1910
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