Wyoming officials worry brucellosis rule could affect state's cattle ranchers

Cattle Market & Farm Reports, Editorials
Dec 20, 2007
by WLJ
State of Wyoming officials say they’re concerned an upcoming federal rule governing brucellosis in wildlife and livestock might threaten the state’s newly regained brucellosis-free status.

During a meeting of the state Brucellosis Coordination Team, Wyoming Game and Fish Department Director Terry Cleveland said he’s worried that the new rules might, in effect, punish Wyoming cattle ranchers because of brucellosis in elk.

“I don’t want Wyoming livestock producers to lose (brucellosis-free) status because of disease in wildlife,” Cleveland said.

Wyoming Gov. Dave Freudenthal also has objected to the rulemaking, saying in a December letter to U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Mike Johanns that a nationwide approach to fighting brucellosis was “a monumental shift in a direction that is unacceptable to the state.”

Brett Combs, a veterinarian for USDA’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service, said he would relay Wyoming’s concerns to federal officials.

Part of the problem, state officials said, is that they haven’t been able to see the draft rules, which are scheduled to be published in the fall. By then, they worry, it might be too late to make substantial changes to protect Wyoming ranchers.

Brucellosis infects cattle, elk and bison and can cause cows to abort. Wyoming lost its brucellosis-free status in 2003 when the disease was found in a herd of cattle near Pinedale, WY. The state only regained brucellosis-free status last fall.