Bovine TB outbreak funding OK’d

The Associated Press

After pushing the Bush administration to release millions of dollars to address the latest cattle tuberc ulosis outbreak in eastern New Mexico, the state’s two U.S. senators announced Tuesday that federal officials will make $37 million available.

The funding will be provided through the Commodity Credit Corporation and would allow the U.S. Department of Agriculture to pay for destroying the infected dairy herds and carry out other activities to contain the TB situation in the state.

“Containing this disease before it becomes widespread is in everyone’s best interests,” Sen. Pete Domenici, R-N.M., said Tuesday evening after learning about the funding.

Sen. Jeff Bingaman, D-N.M., said destroying the infected herd is essential to stopping the spread of bovine TB.

“I’m very appreciative that this funding is being made available to assist with that very expensive task, and to help the state tackle this serious problem,” Bingaman said.

About 170 cows at an isolated dairy farm in Curry County tested positive for TB in June.

In July, the state’s congressional delegation and Gov. Bill Richardson expressed concern that federal officials were poised to change the state’s TB-free status because of the new cases. But the USDA agreed to give the state 60 days to prove that the outbreak was isolated and wouldn’t spread.

Currently, only part of New Mexico is required to test cows for TB before they’re shipped out of state. The rest of New Mexico is considered TB-free, and producers can take cattle across the state line freely with testing every few years.

Domenici and Bingaman have been working with Agriculture Secretary Michael Johanns and the Bush administration to address the problematic TB situation in Curry and Roosevelt counties, particularly in how the outbreak could affect New Mexico’s status as a TB-free state.