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State's bovine TB status downgraded

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Detroit Lakes, 56501

Detroit Lakes Minnesota 511 Washington Avenue 56501

Effective this past Wednesday, April 9, Minnesota's bovine tuberculosis status has been officially downgraded from Modified Accredited Advanced (MAA) to Modified Accredited (MA).

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The drop in status was required by the U.S. Department of Agriculture after the discovery of four additional infected herds in northern Minnesota within the last 12 months. The infected herds were all discovered in Beltrami and Roseau counties, according to Minnesota State Veterinarian Dr. Bill Hartmann.

On Tuesday, Minnesota Board of Animal Health District Veterinarian Randy Lindemann, Frazee, gave area residents an update on what the status downgrade would mean for Minnesota cattle producers.

The most obvious change, Lindemann said, is that cattle producers will now be required to adhere to stricter federal and state testing requirements when shipping cattle or bison out of state.

"Plan ahead," Lindemann told a room full of about 40 interested listeners in a meeting held Tuesday afternoon at Detroit Lakes' Minnesota State Community & Technical College.

In other words, he cautioned, don't attempt to schedule testing for a week before cattle are scheduled to be shipped; the test results won't be certified in time.

With MA status, feeder cattle or bison shipped out of Minnesota will now be required to have a negative TB test within 60 days of shipment. Breeding cattle or bison will now require not only a negative individual TB test within 60 days of shipment (required under MAA status), but a negative "whole herd" TB test will need to be completed within 12 months of shipment.

The standards for slaughter cattle or bison will remain unchanged with the status downgrade, Lindemann noted. No testing is required if the animals are moved directly to slaughter at an approved (i.e., federal or state inspected) facility.

In an effort to minimize the impact of the status change on the state's cattle industry overall, Lindemann said, the BAH has already begun the process of seeking "split state" status.

This will allow the majority of the state to upgrade its status back to MAA, while a small region in northwest Minnesota containing the TB-infected herds will remain Modified Accredited.

Some of the benefits of split-state status, Lindemann said, are that it would help the BAH to target resources where they are most needed, while also saving producers outside the affected area from the additional federal testing requirements that accompany MA status.

The BAH is hoping to obtain split state status by fall, but as Lindemann noted, "this fall is an optimistic prediction -- Michigan (which was granted split state status by the USDA in 2004) took a year to get it done."

The first step, Lindemann said, is to obtain an official risk assessment from the USDA.

Once guidelines for animal identification, movement and testing have been developed and implemented, then the BAH can officially seek split state status from the USDA.

But even if they succeed in obtaining split state status, Lindemann noted, the State of Minnesota "is committed to eliminating bovine TB" from the state entirely --including the current TB Management Area, where all of the infected herds have been discovered to date.

For information on bovine TB or other upcoming TB status meetings, call the Minnesota Board of Animal Health Bovine TB Hotline at 1-877-MN TB FREE (668-2373) or log on to the Board's website at www.bah.state.mn.us.

(Vicki Gerdes can be reached by e-mail at vgerdes@dlnewspapers.com.)

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