Cattlemen celebrate opening of markets after state declared TB free

Hartmann, backed by Gov. Mark Dayton, Sen. Doug Magnus and Rep. Rod Hamilton

Minnesota cattlemen are celebrating the reopening of markets nationwide after tuberculosis found in one cow six years ago hurt their sales.

Gov. Mark Dayton today issued a proclamation proclaiming TB free day for the state’s cattle industry after 58 herds were destroyed and 800,000 animals tested.

“We have eliminated it from the U.S. for the most part,” State Veterinarian Dr. Bill Hartmann said as Dayton announced the proclamation.

The federal government already had proclaimed Minnesota to be TB free, but today’s announcement was a celebration of the decision.

When one cow in northwestern Minnesota was diagnosed with TB, along with some deer, it forced the federal government to restrict cattle movement out of the entire state, even from areas far removed from the northwest. That restriction was eased, but cattlemen still faced problems selling in other states.

The federal and state governments, assisted by funds from cattle producers statewide, bought out potentially infected herds to stop TB’s spread.

Cattleman Don Schiefelbein of Kimball said the TB discovery “restricted the states we can travel,” which cut the marketing possibilities.

No one at the Dayton announcement could provide an estimate about how much cattlemen or the state lost when other states refused to accept Minnesota cattle.

They also did not know how many head of cattle were killed to prevent TB from spreading, but Hartmann said 58 herds ranging from 25 to 550 head were destroyed.

One of the reasons for the restrictions was that bovine TB can spread to humans, with another being the high cost to cattle producers dealing with the disease.

Hartmann said the state now requires permits for cattle to come into the state, especially those from Mexico and those involved in rodeos because they may have a higher possibility of carrying TB.

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