Bingaman: USDA changes will benefit New Mexico livestock producers

WASHINGTON – U.S. Senator Jeff Bingaman today announced that the U.S. Department of Agriculture is making it easier for livestock producers not affected by bovine tuberculosis (TB) to move their animals across state lines, even if TB is present in the state. The changes are expected to result in substantial savings in cost and time required to test cattle for bovine TB.

Under USDA’s new policy, mandatory movement restrictions for previously affected areas will remain in place but a number of requirements will be relaxed. For example, beef cattle will be able to move from an area where TB has been detected to an area where it has not been detected even without testing, and commuter herds will no longer be required to test. Dairy cattle considered “closed herds” moving in New Mexico between locations in and out of the zone will also not be required to test.

The USDA made these changes in consultation with ranchers and dairy producers, and after determining that cattle can be moved safely without jeopardizing the health of other herds.

“These new regulations are long overdue. New Mexico’s livestock industry is the state’s single most important agricultural commodity with total annual sales of milk and beef cattle totaling over $2 billion. There are over 1.5 million cattle and calves in New Mexico, including 330,000 dairy cows,” Bingaman said. “The new regulations outlined by USDA will ensure New Mexico producers are protected from bovine TB contamination, while reducing burdensome restrictions on their business operations.”

New Mexico has been operating under split-state status for over a year, which required all cattle shipped from Curry and Roosevelt Counties to be tested for bovine TB.