The Montana Department of Livestock (MDOL) announced that the USDA-Animal & Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) has reinstated the state's Brucellosis Class Free Status.
"We're pleased with APHIS's quick decision regarding Montana's brucellosis status," said state veterinarian Dr. Marty Zaluski. "It's a testament to all of the hard work the state's livestock producers put into getting our Class Free Status back as soon as possible."
Governor Brian Schweitzer said the reinstatement is a step in the right direction for a "real solution to the Greater Yellowstone Area's long-standing brucellosis problem."
"Thanks to the diligence of the Department of Livestock, we have our Class Free Status back in record time," Governor Schweitzer said. "Now we want to continue working with USDA on more sensible federal disease management regulations. Recently they have made good progress toward longer term solutions to brucellosis in Greater Yellowstone."
Montana had been brucellosis-free since 1985, but the state's Class Free Status was downgraded in September of 2008 after the disease was found twice in a 13-month span.
MDOL responded quickly by forming 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.
Zaluski said the Brucellosis Action Plan will remain in place, as originally planned, for six months after Class Free Status is reinstated as "an assurance to our trading partners."
"I'm sure livestock producers across the state, and especially in the seven-county area defined in the Brucellosis Action Plan, are breathing a huge sigh of relief," Zaluski said. "We hope other states, particularly those the state ships large numbers of livestock to, take notice of the rapid reinstatement.
In order for a state to attain and keep its Class Free status, all cattle herds within that state must remain brucellosis-free for 12 consecutive months.
The 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.
Notice of this interim rule is scheduled for publication in the July 10 Federal Register and becomes effective upon publication. Consideration will be given to comments received on or before September 8, 2009; send two copies of postal or commercial delivery comments to Docket No. APHIS-2009-0040, Regulatory Analysis and Development, PPD, APHIS, Station 3A-03.8, 4700 River Road, Unit 118, Riverdale, MD 20737-1238. Please state that your comment refers to Docket No. APHIS-2009-0040. If you wish to submit a comment using the Internet, go to the Federal eRulemaking portal at http://www.reglations.gov/fdmspublic/component/main?main=DocketDetail&d=APHIS-2009-0040