Drover's News

USCA Requests Continued Brucellosis Research

By Kenny Graner, President, U.S. Cattlemen’s Association


 Dear Secretary Perdue:

On behalf of the United States Cattlemen’s Association (USCA) and its nationwide membership of cow-calf producers, backgrounders and feedlot operators, we respectfully write to express our concern regarding USDA’s decision to decommission critical brucellosis research taking place in Montana and Colorado. USCA requests USDA-APHIS to continue field research on brucellosis without interruption.

Not only is brucellosis an expanding zoonotic disease in the Greater Yellowstone Area, but prior brucellosis research efforts have directly influenced improved decision-making related to brucellosis management. Advancements in time postponement necessary for subsequent grazing by cattle on lands after the presence of infected wildlife, potential for remote vaccination of wildlife, and the ability of bull bison to transmit brucellosis have all been made under current research efforts.

USDA’s announcement to decommission brucellosis field studies is extremely troubling given the National Academy of Sciences’ recent report stating that brucellosis is spreading in wildlife, and that additional research on elk and bison is needed in the field, not less. This APHIS-funded report determined that “top priority should be placed on research to better understand brucellosis disease ecology and epidemiology in elk and bison,” and “the current spread of brucellosis will have serious future implications if it moves outside of the [Greater Yellowstone Area].”

Increased prevalence and geographic expansion of brucellosis has increased over the past decade. If field research on brucella is decommissioned, it is unlikely to resume in the near future due to high start-up costs, loss of invaluable expertise, and competing interests for limited funding. Moreover, the void in research by APHIS-Veterinary Services will be inadequately filled by entities more concerned with expanding the range of wildlife in the name of conservation, than with the impact of disease to domestic livestock. All of these factors will lead to even further increases in prevalence and geographic expansion of the disease.

Despite USDA’s assertion that current brucellosis field research must be discontinued to ensure compliance with Select Agent regulations, studies on captive elk and bison in Montana qualify for the exclusion set forth in CFR §73.4 (Title 42, Chapter I, Subchapter F), which states that “any overlap select agent or toxin that is in its naturally occurring environment provided that the select agent or toxin has not been intentionally introduced, cultivated, collected, or otherwise extracted from its natural source.” Further, the APHIS Administrator may grant “a specific exemption upon a showing of good cause and upon his or her determination that such exemption is consistent with protecting animal health or animal products” under CFR §121.5 (Title 9, Chapter I, Subchapter E, Part 121). Sufficient “good cause” exists for the APHIS Administrator to grant an exemption to continue critical research and maintain research capacity on Brucella abortus with the objective of reducing further spread in the wildlife population and safeguarding our nation’s livestock population.

USCA requests USDA-APHIS to continue critical field research on brucellosis due to the expanding range of the disease, lack of alternative study efforts, legal exclusion in CFR §73.4, and ability to grant exemptions under CFR §121.5. Now is not the time to cut back on valuable brucellosis field research.

We welcome further discussion on the topic; please contact USCA’s Washington, D.C. office at (202) 546-4064 for additional commentary or clarification. Thank you for your consideration.

Thank you,

Kenny Graner


U.S. Cattlemen’s Association

More than 500 people from across the food supply chain will convene Nov. 15-16 in Kansas City for ongoing conversations about achieving and scaling sustainable production practices.Now in its third ye

By Kenny Graner, President, U.S. Cattlemen’s Association   Dear Secretary Perdue: On behalf of the United States Cattlemen’s Association (USCA) and its nationwide membership of cow-calf producer

No disrespect to cows, but they produce a lot of gas.And while farmers may be unfazed by the smell, the gas is methane, one of the most potent greenhouse gases.Across the globe, livestock spew 14.5 pe

In a pair of totally unrelated news releases this morning (October 24), Cargill announced its acquisition of Diamond V and Eli Lilly and Company announced it would entertain purchase offers for its El

A producer panel included insights from (left to right) Dan Hayden, a cow-calf and poultry producer from Kentucky, Tim Oleksyn, a rancher and farmer from northern Saskatchewan, Erika Murphy, a seedsto

AgriLabs has announced their decision to assist with hurricane relief efforts, by donating more than $35,000 worth of product to meet the immediate needs of livestock affected by the unfortunate weath

When purchasing ranch-direct calves, Colorado cattle feeder Steve Gabel says “I won’t buy them without verification they’ve received at least two doses of modified-live viral vaccine.”That wa

The ninth edition of Uniform Guidelines for Beef Improvement Programs represents a legacy of work that spans more than 50 years of cooperation among the various segments of the beef cattle industry.

 In my last letter to the Academy of Veterinary Consultants (AVC) membership I quoted the saying “the only constant is change.”  In production animal medicine we are all too famil

As we approach the end of 2016, we want to look back on the top 10 articles from Bovine Vet this year. Read the number two below.   Drovers CattleNetwork recently received an inquiry

As we approach the end of 2016, we want to look back on the top 10 articles from Bovine Vet this year. Read the number three below.   Drovers CattleNetwork recently received an inquir

As we approach the end of 2016, we want to look back on the top 10 articles from Bovine Vet this year. Read the number nine below.   Drovers recently received an inquiry from a college st

While cattle do produce greenhouse gasses, good management of pastures and grazing systems can return carbon to the soil, improve soil health and productivity and make ranching more profitable. Those

Dr. Dan Thomson, College of Veterinary Medicine at K-State University, says now is the time for beef and dairy producers to get their FREE Beef Quality Assurance (BQA) certification. Sign up by Novem

Advancing zero deforestation in beef production, assessing the overall sustainability of the beef value chain and connecting consumers and sustainability were just a few of the topics discussed at th

Corporations want to tell their customers that their businesses, including their supply chains, are verifiably sustainable. McDonald’s, for example, announced in 2014 its commitment to begin so

Music starts and the dark screen transitions to a salt-and-pepper-haired man in a purple button-down shirt sitting in front of a tin-barn studio backdrop.“Hi, folks, it’s Dr. Dan from Doc

The annual “Update for Veterinarians” program organized by Iowa State University’s Iowa Beef Center features a full day of education and demonstrations focused on beef cattle. Iowa

The USDA’s Animal Health Monitoring System (NAHMS) regularly conducts major studies of livestock-production segments to track animal-health related trends and practices. During 2017, NAHMS will

Beef cattle research faculty from Kansas State University’s Department of Animal Sciences and Industry and the College of Veterinary Medicine with faculty from the Department of Animal and Food