Brucellosis info offered, input sought on national approach
Riverton — Wyoming State Veterinarian Jim Logan took to the road mid-August to visit with livestock producers in Cody and Pinedale about changes being considered for the nation’s brucellosis management and eradication guidelines. While dates haven’t yet been announced, he’s planning similar such meetings early September in Gillette and Wheatland.
Logan says APHIS, USDA’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service, is changing the direction of its national program. He hopes to see the agency take a firm grasp on the management practices Wyoming, Montana and Idaho already have in place.
“Nationally,” says Logan, “there are a lot of things that need to be changed to bring the Uniform Method and Rules and the Code of Federal Regulations up to date. When those documents were last revised the risk existed with cattle to cattle transmission.” Today’s risk exists in the form of wildlife to livestock transmission.
“The old documents are so old,” he explains, “that they still reflect a lot of the testing requirements that relate to the old Strain 19 vaccine that we haven’t used for 12 years. There’s a need to update these things.” When the changes are implemented, depopulation with indemnity for infected herds, says Logan, will no longer be the first alternative considered.
APHIS first set down the course toward revisions Fall 2008 when it released the National Brucellosis Elimination Zone (NBEZ) document. Proving controversial from the ranching community to the Governor’s office, governors Dave Freudenthal and Butch Otter, instructed the state vets within their respective states to write a local proposal to present to the federal agency.
At a June 18 meeting in Idaho Falls, Idaho Logan, along with Assistant State Veterinarian Walt Cook, Ryan Lance of the Governor’s office and University of Wyoming College of Ag Dean and brucellosis task force chairman Frank Galey, did just that.
So far, Logan says APHIS has welcomed the opportunity to work with the states and progress is being made on a new document. “They’re making changes to some of the requirements,” says Logan of an effort he says will end testing where the disease is no longer of concern. “They’re doing that to save money and focus their efforts and money on the Greater Yellowstone Area to work on the source of the disease as well as making sure that animals coming from this area are not carrying or spreading brucellosis.”
“The document being drafted,” says USDA APHIS spokeswoman Lyndsay Cole, “is not a rule, but rather another concept paper that will be written and agreed upon by the three states and APHIS. Once the concept document has been created, it will be published in the Federal Register and there will be a public comment period.”
Logan says the states are also seeking the ability to carry out aspects of the brucellosis program on behalf of APHIS via an MOU. “We want more state input, more state control of the program,” says Logan. It’s his hope that the agency will base its program on the state level efforts already in place in Montana, Idaho and Wyoming.
On a national level, and something that is outlined in the draft document, Logan says, “The three states, and APHIS agrees, want the source addressed. We expect APHIS to work with the Department of Interior and other USDA agencies that deal with wildlife on mitigation, control and eradication efforts so producers aren’t just stuck there forever dealing with wildlife.”
Logan says, “People have been talking about this concept. We’re trying to get to a point where our country as a whole can be declared free of brucellosis while realizing there are risk areas. We want to deal with the problem on a local basis, not a national basis.”
Cole says APHIS doesn’t have a timeline for releasing the new document for public comment. They’re instead waiting to hear comments that result from public meetings being held by state veterinarians within the three affected states. She adds, “I do know they are definitely going to have something ready to present at the U.S. Animal Health Association meeting in October.” USAHA meetings often serve as the “launching point” for changes to be made within USDA’s animal health policies.
Jennifer Womack is managing editor of the Wyoming Livestock Roundup. Send comments on this article to firstname.lastname@example.org.