APHIS may change brucellosis rulesWritten by Jennifer Womack
Riverton – Just back from the U.S. Animal Health Association (USAHA) meeting, Assistant State Veterinarian Jim Logan says the USDA Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) is considering changes to the national rules governing management of the disease brucellosis.
Animal health officials from Idaho, Montana and Wyoming as well as a subcommittee of the USAHA have been discussing changes and took their ideas to the meeting. They were met with an APHIS-generated proposal. Committee members weren’t prepared to support sweeping changes in any detail without having first thoroughly reviewed the ideas, but Logan says they did back the special management zone concept.
“It’s fairly similar to what the USAHA subcommittee and the tri-state group had suggested some ideas toward,” says Logan of the APHIS proposal. “It would allow for several infected herds within the zone or identified surveillance area without affecting the status in the rest of the state,” says Logan. “If we found cases outside the zone then status certainly could be affected.”
APHIS has dubbed the effort the “National Brucellosis Elimination Zone” or “NBEZ” and has prepared a nine-page brochure outlining the concept. Logan says, “State vets and industry people expressed their willingness to work with APHIS and the states to develop something that will hopefully be beneficial to producers.” Based on an APHIS presentation Logan says the effort may serve as a template for other diseases, like tuberculosis, that are present in both wildlife and livestock.
APHIS, says Logan, realizes the effort will require additional dollars to aid producers with surveillance costs and projects to ensure separation of wildlife and livestock. It also calls for memorandums of understanding (MOU) with state and federal wildlife agencies to address the wildlife component. “It holds the wildlife side accountable for working on the disease,” says Logan.
Logan says there was concern among some Wyoming producers that Wyoming Livestock Board (WLSB) officials were attending the meeting to request a reduction in the testing age from 18 months to 12 months, which was not the case. “The details were not part of the resolution,” he says. The agency has been discussing amendments to its own state-level Chapter 2 Brucellosis Rules while at the same time working to see that the federal regulations are updated. It’s a scenario that may have caused some confusion among producers. With brucellosis testing and surveillance underway in western Wyoming the WLSB has tabled changes to its rules until later this year or early next year.
“At this stage,” says Logan, “I expect the WLSB will sit back and see what APHIS develops since the concepts are similar to what the USAHA and tri-state groups talked about. The devil will certainly be in the details. We’re talking to the higher-up in APHIS and trying to keep it so producers in that area can stay in business and common sense remains in the plan.”
“Six months at the earliest and probably longer,” he says when asked how soon changes might be implemented. “I wish I knew. It depends on who you talk to and what their ideas for change are.”
Logan stresses the importance of how the state moves forward and the fine-tuning of regulations to assure Wyoming’s trading partners of clean cattle. “We were told by other state veterinarians at the USAHA meeting that there is a lot of concern about purchasing cattle from the GYA now that the rest of the country has become brucellosis free. Unfortunately many of the producers in the state do not grasp the significance of the other state veterinarian’s concerns. Other states don’t want to buy the disease and I don’t blame them.”