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Protecting health of animals across Missouri

Ag Matters: The Animal Health Division works to safeguard the food sector from farm to fork.

Chris Chinn

February 25, 2020

3 Min Read
photo montage of veterinary researchers, scientists in lab
TESTING FACILITIES: The Missouri Department of Agriculture has two veterinary diagnostic laboratories — one in Jefferson City and one in Springfield. Missouri Department of Agriculture

Missouri agriculture is home to more than 8 million cattle, hogs, sheep, goats and horses. Simply put, we have more livestock in our state than people. When you add production numbers from our poultry industry, that number climbs to a staggering 316 million livestock and poultry animals that are cared for daily by our dedicated farmers and ranchers.

As farmers, we count on two very important items each day: healthy livestock and the ability to buy, sell and move our herds as needed. The Missouri Department of Agriculture’s Animal Health Division works quietly around the state to protect both.

A primary role of the Animal Health Division is animal disease control and prevention. Our team of eight district veterinarians work alongside the state veterinarian, assistant state veterinarian and epidemiologist to conduct routine disease surveillance, implement biosecurity measures, and provide direct support to farmers and their fellow veterinarians.

The team’s disease control and prevention responsibilities also include the poultry health program, livestock movement permits, disease traceability and, of course, our laboratory staff.

Safety system

When an agricultural emergency strikes, our Agri-Security team begins work immediately with state and federal partners to initiate a response and recovery strategy. An agricultural emergency may include those caused by natural disasters or a livestock disease outbreak.

The Agri-Security program also works with producers and industry leaders to develop enhanced biosecurity plans that will allow producers some business continuity during an outbreak. By working with partners such as USDA and the State Emergency Management Agency year-round, our team remains ready when farmers and ranchers need it most. 

The Meat and Poultry Inspection team is dedicated to ensuring that the commercial supply of meat and poultry products within Missouri is safe, wholesome, accurately labeled and secure.

Small-business owners who want to sell meat and poultry products at the wholesale or retail level, or offer custom exempt processing services, work with this team to ensure they are within state and federal meat inspection laws.

Time for tests

There is one piece that ties the Animal Health Division together — our veterinary diagnostic laboratories. The department has two strategically located laboratories in the state of Missouri: one in Jefferson City and one in Springfield. These laboratories were established to help identify, control and eradicate diseases that threaten Missouri’s animal, livestock, poultry and meat industries.

Our teams provide regulatory disease testing as required by state and federal meat inspection laws, while also offering diagnostic services to veterinarians and livestock producers. Our Springfield laboratory is proud to be one of two laboratories in Missouri certified by the National Animal Health Laboratory Network, which allows us to provide a wider variety of certified services.

As a team, the division also is responsible for livestock brand registration, livestock market licensing, the large carnivore program and more.

The Animal Health Division is led by Dr. Steve Strubberg, who serves in a dual role as state veterinarian and division director. Strubberg will celebrate one year with the department April 1 after 30 years of owning a mixed animal practice in Hermann, Mo. He is supported by Dr. Jean Schmidt, who was promoted to assistant state veterinarian last year.

To learn more about the Animal Health Division or the Missouri Department of Agriculture in general, visit agriculture.mo.gov.

Chinn is the director of the Missouri Department of Agriculture and a hog producer from Clarence, Mo.

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