MDOL seeks input on federal brucellosis rules
The Montana Department of Livestock (MDOL) is hosting informational meetings to solicit input from livestock producers about revising federal brucellosis rules.
The meetings will center on a draft USDA-Animal & Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) proposal to focus brucellosis eradication efforts on the Greater Yellowstone Area (GYA).
“We’d like to get producer input on how federal brucellosis requirements can be revised to adequately address disease concerns without being unnecessarily burdensome,” said state veterinarian Dr. Marty Zaluski, MDOL.
Meetings will be held at:
• August 4/Billings: 5:30-8:00 p.m., Holiday Inn Grand/ Stillwater Room (5500 Midland Road; 406/248-7701).
• August 5/Bozeman: 5:30-7:30 p.m., Comfort Inn/Madison Room (1370 N. 7th Avenue; 406/587-2322).
Many critics of federal brucellosis requirements say USDA’s rules are outdated, and officials with APHIS Veterinary Services agree.
“Despite cooperative federal-state-industry efforts to eradicate brucellosis, final eradication will not be possible unless we adopt new strategies,” said Dr. John Clifford, Chief Veterinary Medical Officer, USDA-APHIS Veterinary Services. “We must shift the brucellosis eradication program from geopolitical boundaries to boundaries based on sound science, epidemiology and risk assessment.”
Last fall, APHIS released a draft brucellosis regionalization plan known as the National Brucellosis Elimination Zone. Despite an endorsement from the U.S. Animal Health Association, the plan was greeted with skepticism by some state animal health officials and producers. APHIS responded with a new concept – the Designated Surveillance Area Plan (DSA) – that gives states more autonomy in drawing boundaries for brucellosis surveillance areas.
“The DSA has more support from state animal health officials than NBEZ did,” Zaluski said, adding that he tentatively supports the concept. “It gives states more autonomy and flexibility in their own backyards.”
The DSA would focus brucellosis surveillance on the GYA, which harbours the only known reservoir of brucella abortus in the U.S., while relaxing testing requirements now in place nation-wide. GYA ranchers would be required to test livestock and would be subject to quarantine if infections were to occur; states would not, however, lose Class Free Status for infections that occur within the GYA.
Current rules that require whole-herd depopulation would also be eliminated.
Additionally, the DSA would also give assurance to states that may have concerns about importing cattle from the GYA, thus eliminating the need for destination states to imposed sanctions on cattle from the area.
Clifford said the proposed regulatory framework more directly addresses the brucellosis problem.
“As of July 10, when Montana regained its Class Free Brucellosis Designation, U.S. cattle are free of brucellosis,” Clifford said. “While this is a major accomplishment, our work is not done. Now we have to direct our focus and resources to high-risk areas such as the GYA, where there is a known reservoir of the disease in wildlife and wildlife-to-livestock transmission is still a threat.”
Similar meetings are also being held in Wyoming and Idaho, the other two GYA states that have had problems with brucellosis.
Current USDA-APHIS Uniform Methods and Rules for Brucellosis can be found at http://www.aphis.usda.gov/animal_health/animal_diseases/brucellosis/downloads/umr_bovine_bruc.pdf.