Crisis drill training helps dairy industry prepare coordinated response

Dairy industry leaders gathered in April in Washington, D.C. to practice an industry-wide response plan that would be activated in the event of a situation that called into question the safety of consuming dairy foods.

More than 75 people — representing dairy cooperatives, processors, industry associations, government agencies and dairy checkoff organizations — attended the 2009 Dairy Industry Regional Training Crisis Drill, sponsored by the dairy checkoff. Participants role-played the leadership of fictional dairy companies that were embroiled in a food safety crisis that implicated dairy foods.

“Dairy producers, through their checkoff investment, are driving an industry-wide initiative that helps ensure the dairy industry can protect public health and the long-term interests of the dairy industry in the event of a crisis,” said Stacey Stevens, director of nutrition and industry affairs for Dairy Management Inc (DMI). “This training was an opportunity to practice, to face the unthinkable and to learn from it. At the end of the day, the participants left with an appreciation of how the government, processors, producers and exporters must work hand-in-hand to communicate quickly, accurately and effectively with the public in a dairy-related crisis.”

DMI, in cooperation with other national dairy industry organizations, launched the dairy industry’s Crisis Readiness Program in 2001. The program entails:

·  A crisis communications plan

·  Annual crisis drills and media trainings with staff, dairy producers and livestock veterinarians

·         Useful crisis preparation and response materials and resources that integrate with the government’s Incident Command System

Dairy producers can learn more at www.dairyresponse.com. The site features contact information for state and regional dairy organizations and dairy animal health professionals; background on potential issues; and communications tips. During a crisis situation, the site will provide news updates and links to government information about the operational response. As DMI monitors the current H1N1 Flu Virus (“Swine Flu”) situation, the site will be updated with information pertinent to dairy producers.

DMI will repeat this training workshop in other regions of the country over the next few years.

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