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Tuberculosis-Free

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VB RANCH

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ST. PAUL, Minn. - Ranchers, elected officials and agriculture groups celebrated success Wednesday in Minnesota's six-year fight to regain tuberculosis-free status for state cattle herds.

Gov. Mark Dayton issued a proclamation and otherwise promoted Minnesota's upgraded status, which was formally conferred by federal officials in October. The distinction makes it easier for producers to move their cattle across state lines and relaxes an aggressive testing regime for most areas.

"We hope it lasts," said Republican Sen. Doug Magnus of the TB-free status. "We don't want to go through it again."

Dr. Bill Hartmann of the Board of Animal Health says more than 800,000 TB tests were done and 14 miles of fencing was installed in the main management zone after the disease was detected in a single cow six years ago. The state spent $14 million on its effort; costs to the federal government and producers haven't been calculated, he said.

Fifty-eight ranchers in northwestern Minnesota had their entire herds destroyed, officials said.

Steve Brake, a cattleman from Wilmont in southwestern Minnesota, said that while none of his animals were destroyed, some of his peers suffered greatly.

"I can't imagine walking out my front door in the morning and not seeing my herd of cattle out there," he said.

Another rancher, Don Schiefelbien of Kimball, Minn., said Minnesota ranchers far from the focus area felt an impact from the restrictions.

"We had to jump through all these various hoops to move our good cattle product to other states," he said.

Hartmann said the origin of the July 2005 case was never found. Among other measures, he said the state has implemented a permit system for rodeo and imported cattle to defend against return of the disease.
 

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