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Cattle movement restricted by new bovine TB rules

We may not be completely done with sunny, warm weather, but this time of year there's no denying the trend. Summer is over, and with autumn comes an increase in cattle movement as fall feeder cattle runs begin.

This year, the situation is more complex thanks to interstate movement restrictions in place due to the bovine tuberculosis (TB) cases in northwestern Minnesota. These testing requirements are a burden for producers, and that is one reason Minnesota state officials have been working hard to eradicate bovine TB as quickly as possible, while at the same time taking steps to minimize the economic burden for the state's cattle industry.

Minnesota officials have made considerable progress in the fight against bovine TB. For example:

n The Minnesota Board of Animal Health received 45 herd buyout contracts signed by cattle producers in the bovine TB Management Zone. BAH estimates that 6,800 cattle will be removed from the TB disease management area as a result of the buyout program, helping reduce the likelihood of continued spread of the disease;

n The Minnesota Department of Natural Resources (DNR) removed more than 4,000 deer through a variety of measures as part of its effort to reduce the risk of wild deer spreading bovine TB to cattle;

n Officials are working with producers in the management zone to install fencing that will keep cattle separate from deer; and

n The Minnesota Department of Agriculture (MDA) worked with federal authorities to develop an alternative surveillance plan for testing Minnesota dairy herds. This plan allows Minnesota dairy farmers and processors to continue to ship their milk across State lines without restrictions.

Another major to-do item for Minnesota is to receive "split-state" status from the U.S. Department of Agriculture. Assuming USDA approves this request, most cattle producers across the state will be exempted from the federal testing requirements. We had hoped USDA would make this decision earlier, but it now looks like any announcement will come in mid October at the earliest. Also, it is important to remember that individual states will decide on their own whether to honor the split-state status granted by USDA.

In light of these uncertainties, producers should carefully consider how they will prepare cattle for sale this fall. The University of Minnesota's Beef Center worked with MDA to develop a "Cost of TB Testing" worksheet that calculates per head costs associated with TB testing of feeder cattle. This worksheet is available online at, and should be useful as producers weigh their options.