Montana regains brucellosis-free status

Sep 4, 2009
by WLJ
Montana regains brucellosis-free status

Montana’s governor, Brian Schweitzer, was presented Montana’s Brucellosis Class Free Certificate from Dr. Brian McCluskey, western regional director of the USDA-Animal & Plant Health Inspection Service’s (APHIS) Veterinary Services, last week. USDA-APHIS reinstated the state’s brucellosis-free status on July 9. The 10-month turnaround was the fastest USDA had ever reinstated a state’s brucellosis-free status.

“Our Department of Livestock worked hard to get this reinstatement, and we plan on keeping it,” Schweitzer said, referring to the official USDA Brucellosis Class-Free status certificate. “With the USDA’s declaration that Montana’s cattle are free of brucellosis, more emphasis can be placed on working with the federal government to write more sensible rules for dealing with brucellosis management in the Yellowstone area.” In making the presentation, McCluskey applauded the Montana Department of Livestock (MDOL) for its rapid and thorough response to losing brucellosis-free status. “The department’s leadership and collaborative spirit have been crucial in assisting USDA reach the milestone of having all 50 states free of bovine brucellosis in domestic livestock,” McCluskey said. McCluskey also thanked the state for its role in “the evolution of the brucellosis eradication program to meet the current needs of ranchers and state and federal government.”

Montana had been brucellosis-free since 1985, but that status was downgraded in September 2008 after the disease was found twice in a 13-month span. MDOL responded by convening a work group that included producers, veterinarians, market operators, and industry organizations to develop a plan for regaining Class Free Status. After a series of informational meetings and extensive public comment, the state’s Brucellosis Action Plan was officially implemented on May 15, 2009. USDA has four classifications for brucellosis: Class Free, Class A, Class B and Class C. Restrictions on the interstate movement of cattle become less stringent as a state approaches or achieves Class Free status.

Class C designation is for states with the highest rate of brucellosis, and requires a federal quarantine. Class A and Class B fall between the two extremes of Class Free and Class C status. — WLJ