The speed with which FMD is discovered, isolated and dealt with will determine the cost of an FMD outbreak, says Purdue University’s Otto Doering. Any delays greatly increase the costs, he says.

Philip Paarlberg, Purdue agricultural economist and a world trade expert, doesn’t believe that an outbreak of FMD in the U.S. means a definite end to the $6 billion U.S. meat export market.

"This country primarily exports fresh meat," he says. "But there is no restriction on FMD countries shipping cooked meat, which is what Argentina chose to do." He also said foreign countries could choose to import meat from regions of the U.S. that were not affected.

Many countries, like Russia, do not care if their meat comes from FMD-infected countries, says Ken Foster, professor of agricultural economics at Purdue University. Price would be lower but increased trade could offset the impact of FMD on domestic prices, he believes.

About 10% of U.S. beef and 7% of U.S. pork is exported. Paarlberg says the pork industry has seen a slight increase in demand for U.S. pork exports as a result of foreign FMD outbreaks.