The FAO has always been concerned with agricultural development and food security. Recent disease epidemics, in both developing and industrialised countries, have once again focussed attention on livestock disease and their potential to harm development. In the context of developing countries, disease epidemics do four things:
They reduce herds and flocks dramatically, which, in the case of pastoral peoples, is a major blow to food security and the ability to survive;
They cause trading partners to – quite understandably – put trade barriers in place in order to protect their own countries from infection. Where livestock or meat exporting countries are affected by epidemics, their “pariah” status can cost millions of dollars in terms of foreign exchange losses, and drive farmers and the local meat industry to the wall.
They are a deterrent to sustained livestock production.
They add significantly to the cost of livestock production through the necessity for the application of costly disease control measures.