Producers participating in the state's bovine tuberculosis buyout program loaded the last of their animals Friday, marking the completion of a nearly year long effort to reduce cattle numbers in the bovine TB Management Zone.
The Minnesota Board of Animal Health received 46 herd buyout contracts from area producers, who agreed to remove or slaughter approximately 6,200 head of cattle by January 31, 2009.
A bill passed by the 2008 Legislature and signed by Governor Tim Pawlenty strengthened the state's efforts to eradicate bovine TB from beef cattle and deer in northwestern Minnesota. The bill increased funding to implement a bovine TB eradication plan, including the buyout program, in northwestern Minnesota.
The program led to the discovery of positive animals in one buyout herd in Beltrami County.
"This positive finding validates the entire buyout program," said Minnesota Bovine TB Coordinator Joe Martin. "We have found positive herds in this area before, and we knew it might happen again. By removing cattle from the Management Zone and working to decrease the deer population, we are carrying out our strategy of eradicating the disease."
Producers that remain in the cattle business or store feedstuffs were required to complete a risk assessment to determine whether the operation's feed and forage crops were adequately protected from free ranging white-tailed deer. The Board required 27 producers in the Management Zone to fence livestock, feed storage, and/or winter feeding areas. The 2008 legislation provided for a cost-share assistance of 90% of the fence cost, up to $75,000. All of the required fencing is complete, with more than 71,000 feet of fence installed.
"Livestock producers in northern Minnesota have worked tirelessly to complete the required fencing, cattle load outs, and herd testing," said Minnesota State Veterinarian Bill Hartmann. "Across the state of Minnesota, more than half a million animals have been tested for bovine TB since the disease was first discovered in Minnesota in 2005. We are indebted to the producers and veterinarians of Minnesota for their cooperation and commitment to eradicating this disease."
Additional information is available by visiting the Bovine TB website at www.mntbfree.com or by calling the Bovine TB Hotline at 1-877-MN TB FREE (668-2373)