From the pages of
Sublette Examiner
Volume 3, Number 48 - February 26, 2004
brought to you online by Pinedale Online

Brucellosis status official

by Cat Urbigkit

By following testing guidelines and barring new brucellosis infections for the next year, Wyoming can regain its brucellosis-free status on Feb. 13, 2005, according to a press release from state officials.

State and federal officials have been aware for about one month that Wyoming would lose its Class-free status, since brucellosis-infected cattle were found in what USDA Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service officials have determined was a second herd in the state.

At the time, APHIS representatives told the State it would take a matter of weeks for the finding to be published in the Federal Register, which would be the official start of Wyoming's new status.

The new rule was published in the Federal Register Friday, Feb. 20, and retroactively took effect Feb. 13. If no further infections are found and the state abides by all testing requirements, Wyoming can regain its Class-free status a year from that date.

According to the Federal Register notice: "On Dec.29, 2003, we confirmed the discovery of a brucellosis-affected herd in Wyoming. In accordance with Sec. 78.1, the state took immediate measures to maintain its Class-free status.

However, on Jan. 21, 2004, another brucellosis-affected herd was confirmed. With the discovery of the second affected herd, Wyoming no longer meets the standards for Class-free status. Therefore, we are removing Wyoming from the list of Class-free states ... and adding it to the list of Class-A states.

"This rule amends the brucellosis regulations concerning interstate movement of cattle by changing the Classification of Wyoming from Class free to Class A. We have determined that Wyoming no longer meets the standards for Class-free status. This action is necessary to prevent the spread of brucellosis in the United States.

"Cattle moved interstate are moved for slaughter, for use as breeding stock, or for feeding. Changing the brucellosis status of Wyoming from Class free to Class A increases testing requirements governing the interstate movement of cattle. However, testing requirements for cattle moved interstate for immediate slaughter or to quarantined feedlots are not affected by this change. Cattle from certified brucellosis-free herds moving interstate are likewise not affected by this change.

"The groups affected by this action will be herd owners in Wyoming, as well as buyers and importers of cattle from this State.

"There were approximately 6,200 operations in Wyoming with a total inventory of 1.47 million head of cattle as of January 1, 2002. Of that inventory, 70 percent were breeding animals and the rest were composed of animals in feedlots and other animals not intended for breeding.

"Industry statistics indicate the average value per head of cattle in Wyoming is $780, with a reported cash value totaling over $1.14 billion. Of the 6,200 cattle and bison operations in Wyoming, more than 90 percent are small businesses. The downgrade from Class free to Class A status will result in movement restrictions where none previously existed. Specifically, all bovine animals to be moved interstate, except those moving directly to slaughter or to quarantined feedlots and those from certified brucellosis-free herds, must test negative to a brucellosis test prior to interstate movement.

"The estimated cost for brucellosis testing, which includes veterinary fees and handling expenses, is between $7.50 and $15 per test. Considering the average value per animal in Wyoming was $780 in 2002, even using the high-end estimate of $15 per test, testing costs would represent only 2 percent of the per head value. Of course, the interim rule will have a greater economic effect on herd owners who are more involved in interstate movement. It is estimated that 10 percent of cattle and calves in Wyoming move interstate. While this change in status will result in more restrictive requirements for interstate movement, the benefits of preventing the spread of brucellosis to other parts of the United States far outweigh the costs imposed.

"Under these circumstances, the Administrator of the Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service has determined that this action will not have a significant economic impact on a substantial number of small entities."

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