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Agriculture Chairwoman Stabenow Announces Program to Help Michigan Livestock Producers Combat Bovine Tuberculosis

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Michigan Senator Debbie Stabenow, Chairwoman of the U.S. Senate Committee on Agriculture, Nutrition and Forestry, today announced that the U.S. Department of Agriculture will focus additional resources and work with livestock producers in 11 Michigan counties to eradicate bovine tuberculosis, a serious threat to Michigan's agricultural and rural economy. Chairwoman Stabenow, who has been at the forefront of the battle against bovine TB in Michigan, once again urged the USDA last month to re-allocate additional resources to address the spread of the disease. She is encouraging Michigan livestock producers in the eligible counties to sign up for the program starting May 2.

"The discovery of Bovine TB in Michigan has led to severe economic consequences for the entire state," Chairwoman Stabenow said. "This program will assist Michigan's hardworking livestock producers to address the spread of bovine TB, reducing the need for costly record keeping, animal testing and eradication practices. As Chairwoman of the Senate Agriculture Committee, I'm focused on bolstering Michigan's economy, giving our farmers, producers and small businesses the tools they need to grow, create jobs and continue producing safe and abundant products. This program will go a long way in making that happen."

Cattle are Michigan's fifth most valuable commodity, reaching nearly $290 million in cash receipts in 2009. Michigan's TB Free status was revoked in 2000 following a comprehensive surveillance of livestock, but was granted split-state status in 2004 to allow eradication efforts to focus on the area affected and the surrounding buffer zone. Chairwoman Stabenow has been working with federal officials to allocate resources that would eliminate the spread of the disease. Statewide support for the program is widespread.

"Bovine TB eradication is a high priority for the Michigan Department of Agriculture and Rural Development and I want to thank Senator Stabenow for her leadership in addressing this serious problem," said Michigan Department of Agriculture Director Keith Creagh. "This funding will be a significant help to farmers who are implementing conservation practices to limit the interaction between whitetail deer and cattle. Our Department looks forward to continuing the strong working relationship with the USDA and Senator Stabenow's office in our efforts to eradicate this disease from Michigan."

"On behalf of the Michigan Cattlemen's Association, we are very appreciative of the work that Senator Stabenow has done in securing funding to help farmers that are battling Bovine TB disease on their land," said Executive Vice President of the Michigan Cattlemen's Association Kathleen Hawkins. "These funds will help with wildlife risk mitigation practices by increasing funds to cost share artificial watering systems, rotational grazing, brush management, stream crossings and other practices. This disease has created challenges for both livestock and wildlife for over a decade. The Michigan Cattlemen's Association along with other industry organizations have been working with the Michigan Department of Agriculture and Rural Development, the USDA and state and national legislators to find ways to manage and eradicate this devastating disease."

"The Michigan Farm Bureau appreciates Senator Stabenow's assistance in securing federal dollars that will go toward helping farmers in Michigan's highest-risk TB counties invest in wildlife risk mitigation practices to minimize and/ or eradicate the spread of TB in Michigan," said Michigan Farm Bureau President Wayne H. Wood. "Livestock farmers in northeast Michigan have been challenged over the years to implement costly precautionary measures to separate their healthy livestock herds from TB-infected wildlife. This infusion of targeted money will go a long way in giving multi-generational family farms the resources they need to combat a disease that is out of their control and threatens their faming livelihood."

"Cattle owners in the TB affected counties should be glad to hear of an announcement of $500,000 to be used by farmers for implementation of wildlife risk mitigation plans (WRMP)," said Montmorency County livestock producer Galen Schalk. "Currently WRMPs appear to be the best way for cattle producers to minimize the risk of their cattle becoming infected with bovine TB from deer."

Bovine tuberculosis is spread to livestock by wild deer through direct contact or from contaminated food or water. Financial assistance from the USDA can be used by livestock producers to implement practices that will exclude deer from livestock and from forage and water utilized by livestock. Examples of practices eligible for financial assistance include fencing, use exclusion practices, watering facilities and forage harvest management. Funds are administered through the USDA Natural Resource Conservation Service's Environmental Quality Incentives Program (EQIP), a voluntary program that provides financial assistance to help plan and implement conservation practices that address natural resource concerns. The program provides producers with conservation opportunities to improve soil, water, plant, animal, air and related resources on agricultural land and non-industrial private forestland.

Financial assistance will be available to livestock producers in Alcona, Alpena, Antrim, Charlevoix, Cheboygan, Crawford, Emmet, Montmorency, Presque Isle, Oscoda and Otsego counties. Producers can apply for the financial assistance between May 2 and May 31.

For more information producers can visit their local NRCS field office or go to the NRCS-Michigan Web site at www.mi.nrcs.usda.gov. Producers interested in applying for funding must submit applications through their local NRCS field office. A listing of NRCS field offices is available online at http://www.mi.nrcs.usda.gov/contact/Field%20Offices.html.


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