Montana Livestock Board eyes to bangs approach | TSLN.com

Montana Livestock Board eyes to bangs approach

Bill Brewster

BOZEMAN, MT – After receiving comments from producers at livestock market center meetings, the state veterinarian has been directed by the Montana Board of Livestock to go back to the drawing board and create a new draft rule regarding brucellosis vaccination.

The decision was made by the board during the May meeting on May 17 at the Diagnostic Laboratory on the Montana State University campus.

The new direction given by the board to Dr. Marty Zaluski, state veterinarian, is to prepare a draft rule to be discussed by the board at the next meeting on July 26-27 in Helena that would address regulations for the vaccination of adult breeding animals for brucellosis.

The department had originally proposed official calfhood vaccination for sexually intact females from four to 11 months of age.

At the time, Zaluski said the calfhood vaccination program, used by four other states, would assure trading partners that Montana was doing everything it could to assure brucellosis-free cattle and would reduce the potential for brucellosis-infected wildlife transmitting the disease to domestic livestock.

The proposal, however, was opposed by producers across the state because of a number of logistical and economic challenges.

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In a letter to the board, Cliff Householder, president of the Southeastern Montana Livestock Association, wrote, “This letter addresses our concerns with the proposed mandatory calf-hood vaccination for brucellosis. At our annual meeting on April 30, 2010, the membership voted to oppose mandatory calf-hood vaccination due to cost, a general shortage of veterinarians and enforcement issues.”

The association represents 115 livestock producers in nine counties and is affiliated with the Montana Stockgrowers Association and the Montana Cattlemans Association. The letter represented the thinking of many other producers in the state.

“Everyone I talked to thinks the breeding animals should be vaccinated,” Chairperson Jan French of Hobson said.

The motion to draft a new adult rule for breeding animals was made by board member Jeff Lewis of Corvallis and seconded by Stan Boone of Ingomar.

“I would suggest 12 months because by then they would know if they were going to be used as breeding animals,” Zaluski said during the discussion.

When drafted, the new proposal would be distributed through livestock market centers and ag organizations to reach produces for input.

In other business, the board approved an order for the testing of animals for tuberculosis entering into Montana.

The rule excluded testing animals from TB accredited free U.S. states or zones as well as beef cattle from California and New Mexico. Beef cattle from Minnesota and Michigan need to be tested because of TB infection in wildlife. All dairy cattle need to be tested.

The staff attorney for the Economic Affairs Interim Committee sent a letter to Christian Mackay, the executive officer for the board which said he could no statutory authority to allow brand inspectors to enforce health testing requirements.

“All of the actions above pertaining to brand inspectors are required by the statute,” Staff Attorney Bart Campbell wrote. “Under state law, it appears that only a veterinarian can prohibit the movement of livestock. It does not appear that a testing issue could in anyway authorize a brand inspector to not comply with the statutory requirements of 81-3-203, MCA.”

Chairman French, however, said the state veterinarian has the authority to request the action which gives them authority for both brand and health matters.

“We are protecting producers within the DSA,” Mackay said.

Meg Smith, a producer from Glen, said there is angst among local brand inspectors on conducting health inspections on TB.

Meanwhile, the Economic Affairs Interim Committee (EAIC) of the Montana Legislature will meet May 25-26 in Helena to consider hear from the state Board of Livestock about brucellosis surveillance areas and whether brand inspectors could be used to enforce them.

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