From the pages of
Sublette Examiner
Volume 6, Number 28 - October 5, 2006
brought to you online by Pinedale Online

Brucellosis rule changes proposed

by Cat Urbigkit

During a meeting last week, the Wyoming Livestock Board decided to forward proposed changes to the state’s brucellosis rules to Governor Dave Freudenthal for his consideration of the livestock industry’s request that the rules be put into effect as emergency rules.

If the rules were put in place, it would immediately halt the change of ownership and interstate movement testing of breeding age female cows in most of the state, with the exception of a six-county area of western Wyoming. With the recent reinstatement of federal brucellosis class-free status, members of the livestock industry have requested that action be taken to quickly ease the testing burden. The livestock board’s action puts the ball in Freudenthal’s court: the governor may sign the rules, which would then be in effect for 120 days as the permanent rules make their way through the official adoption process.

Meanwhile, a second set of changes to the rules are being proposed, according to Wyoming State Veterinarian Dr. Dwayne Oldham. Among the changes is a provision that would affect the six-county area, including Sublette, Teton, Lincoln, Fremont, Hot Springs and Uinta counties. The proposed provision would allow for exemptions from brucellosis testing for cattle herds that had an approved herd plan in place and in which the producer was in compliance. Otherwise, cow herds in the six-county area must continue change-of-ownership testing.

Herd management plans are developed in coordination with animal health officials and are designed to address the specific risks of each ranch due to the proximity to local elk herds and elk feedgrounds. Herd plans identify methods to reduce the risk of disease transmission from wildlife to cattle. Veterinarians with the USDA Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service work with local producers to develop the plans. It’s through this collaborative process that it is determined how frequently each herd should be bled for brucellosis testing.

Oldham said the proposed rule changes recognize the critical role that herd plans play in brucellosis surveillance.

Dr. Owen Henderson of APHIS is available locally for livestock producers wanting to work on their herd plans.

The fact that a six-county area will still have to test for brucellosis more than other areas of the state has drawn the ire of local producers. Green River Valley Cattlemens Association President Jon Boroff sent a letter to the Wyoming Livestock Board last week expressing concern that six counties have been separated out.

“From the very beginning of the process of reclaiming brucellosis-free status, a key provision agreed to by everyone - from the governor on down, was that Wyoming would stand unified,” Boroff wrote. “Our solidarity allowed the legislature to provide astounding support for the effort. We have enjoyed unparalleled cooperation between producers, state, and federal agencies, non-governmental organizations, and various units of government. To implement rules affecting only a six-county area are absolutely counter to the spirit which has brought us so far.”

Boroff’s letter continued: “We are concerned that if producers in the six-county area are segregated, then there is no longer any incentive to cooperate in developing brucellosis management action plans or individual herd plans, even though most of us realize that these are truly the most effective way to deal with disease transmission from elk to cattle in western Wyoming.”

The letter concluded: “We feel strongly that if other states are properly informed about the management actions undertaken by producers, WG&F, APHIS, WLB,, to address the issue of transmission of brucellosis from elk to cattle in Wyoming , there should be no need to continue what amounts to Class A status for producers in the six-county area. If other states continue to be unconvinced, then let them write import restrictions specific to geographic areas, rather than having our own state’s livestock board facilitate and propagate ignorance, fear, distrust and paranoia regarding cattle from this six-county area.”

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