Friends and collaborators protecting animal health
Beatriz Martinez Lopez, UC Davis School of Veterinary Medicine professor and agronomist, and Alda Pires, associate specialist in Cooperative Extension and agronomist, met during graduate studies in 2006 and were delighted to cross paths again at UC Davis. “Our collaboration started with friendship and our common interests in epidemiology and animal health,” said Pires.
They work on projects addressing animal health and food safety needs of backyard and alternative agricultural farms, threats of avian influenza and swine flu, the impact of wildfires on livestock production and more.
“Alda has a lot of experience and her work is amazing,” said Martinez Lopez. “In California, there has been an increase in backyard production systems so it’s highly needed.”
“Because organic, local, diversified systems are growing so much, there are a lot of knowledge gaps in the systems,” said Pires. “The tools that Beatriz works with and a lot of her work internationally are in identical systems, just with different diseases and problems. There is a great complement of expertise.”
They are proud of completing a series of needs assessments to understand the animal health needs of small farms and backyard systems. “It has helped us be more organized and structured in our outreach,” noted Pires. “From that small pilot study, we now have a multi-state project funded by USDA National Animal Disease Preparedness and Response Program (NADPRP). Our clients are benefiting from the structured network we created and materials that provide reliable information.”
Martinez Lopez said that small producers have very different needs than the large commercial systems she has worked with and are left out of the system somewhat because it is hard to implement the recommended biosecurity at smaller farms. “We are trying to address the gaps and provide useful tools. We are still in process, but we’ve created the foundation,” she said.
Diversified small-scale farm with fresh produce production
Alda Pires (left) and Beatriz Martinez Lopez