WLSB hears updates on brucellosis program
During the Wyoming Livestock Board (WLSB) conference call on Oct. 10, board members received an update on the annual brucellosis review, conducted on Sept. 10 and 11.
“A review team of about eight people spent two days looking at our designated surveillance area (DSA),” said Wyoming State Veterinarian Jim Logan. “Dr. Meyer served as our representative on the team.”
Logan also noted that veterinarians from the Western U.S. comprised the committee.
As part of the review, the committee conducted a lengthy entrance interview, visited the Riverton sale barn and held an exit interview, along with reviewing policies.
Logan added that the committee also met with three producers: one from within the DSA affected by quarantine, one outside the DSA who was a WLSB member and one producer outside the DSA who was a non-WLSB member.
“They had quite a few questions about the WLSB and APHIS risk mitigation efforts and prevention,” he commented. “In a nutshell, we haven’t received the report yet, but I believe that Wyoming passed the review.”
“In our exit interview, the committee talked about the things they planned to write in their report. Though I believe we passed the review, that is not to say that everything is perfect,” added Logan. “They identified areas we can improve.”
Among areas that can improve, Logan mentioned the current Chapter Two rules allowing an exemption for cattle that are going directly to slaughter.
“Cattle going direct to slaughter do not have to be tested,” said Logan. “At the time, it was legitimate and prudent to do that because slaughter surveillance was being done already.”
When rules were written, commercial slaughter plants were required by APHIS and the Food Safety Inspection Service to collect samples on a minimum of 95 percent of animals eligible for brucellosis testing.
“In the last four years due to a lot of reasons, the national slaughter surveillance program was cut back to provide efficiencies, save money and provide adequate surveillance,” he explained. “At this time, only nine major slaughter plants are collecting samples for brucellosis at the 50 percent level – that concerns every state veterinarian in the country.”
The lack of surveillance at slaughter, says Logan, increases a chance that cattle might be missed coming from any area of Wyoming, though the DSA would be of primary interest. Outside the Greater Yellowstone Area, brucellosis has largely been eradicated in the U.S.
“I believe we could miss a herd because there isn’t adequate slaughter surveillance, and it might be further down the line before we catch it,” said Logan of his concern. “Other state veterinarians are concerned because they don’t want to buy this disease through interstate commerce.”
Logan added that the review team suggested the exemption be removed and all animals be tested before slaughter.
“I think we can remove that exemption without having a major impact on producers,” he said. “If we know they are going to major slaughter plants that collect samples, we can request that samples be collected, or even better, we should consider requiring that the test be done before leaving the farm or ranch.”
Test age eligibility
The review team also brought up test age eligibility, which is currently set at 18 months of age or older.
Logan noted that Montana rules requires testing of sexually intact cattle at 12 months of age, mentioning that the review team was seeking consistency.
“I’m not 100 percent certain we need to go with 12 months of age, but I can see some reasons to go that way,” Logan explained. “Several years ago, I argued strongly to change testing to 12 months and we didn’t, but I can argue either way.”
Logan mentioned, however, that the recommendation might appear in the review team’s report.
“If the review team recommends this action, I recommend that we contact producers and give them time for input,” he added.
An increase in the number of herd plans seen in the state was also a goal the review team mentioned they would like to see.
“I have signed about eight new herd plans in the last week,” said Logan, “but I believe that the majority of producers who want a herd plan are under one.”
Logan added that the review team was also complimentary of Wyoming’s brand inspection program and the state’s ability to ensure compliance with test and identification requirements.
“We are way ahead of a lot of states with our ability to trace back, so I want to give kudos to the brand inspection program,” Logan commented. “They were also very happy that Wyoming built a buffer into the DSA.”
In the expansion of DSA boundaries, the review team was pleased that the area was large enough and allowed the buffer area.
Interagency cooperation efforts between the WLSB, USDA APHIS and the Wyoming Game and Fish Department were also recognized as positive, and Logan said that Wyoming is also ahead of many other states in terms of agency cooperation.
“I appreciate those agencies working closely with us,” he said. “I believe that we passed the review with flying colors, but the report isn’t out yet, so we’ll have to see.”
Logan added that the review team report is expected prior to Oct. 19.
Saige Albert is managing editor of the Wyoming Livestock Roundup and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Philp elected vice president
After Brent Larson left the Wyoming Livestock Board, the position of vice president was left open.
“It is a tradition of the WLSB to elect a vice president,” said Eric Barlow, WLSB President. “There is no legal obligation to have one, but it is a traditional role that is held for good reasons.”
Liz Philp, board member from District Seven, was nominated by Albert Sommers and was unanimously elected to serve as Vice President.