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 undertake additional efforts to work with livestock producers in 11 Michigan counties to eradicate bovine tuberculosis, a serious threat to Michigan's agriculture sector and rural economies. Today's announcement marks the second allocation of resources to help Michigan producers, following Chairwoman Stabenow's original announcement in April that USDA would be stepping up its effort to work with producers. Chairwoman Stabenow, who has been at the forefront of the battle against bovine TB in Michigan, urged the USDA in March to work with Michigan's producers to address the spread of the disease.
Earlier this month, Stabenow visited Sumerix Angus Farm, a local family-owned cattle farm in Lachine that suffered a bovine TB outbreak five years ago and has applied for this critical assistance. There Sen. Stabenow saw firsthand measures being taken to stop the spread of this disease and how support from the Department of Agriculture could help farmers working to protect their livestock and their livelihoods.
"The discovery of Bovine TB in Michigan has led to negative economic consequences for the entire state," Chairwoman Stabenow said. "When I became Chairwoman of the Agriculture Committe, I strongly urged USDA to act and it's good they're continuing to do so. These efforts will continue helping Michigan's hardworking livestock producers address the spread of bovine TB. 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."
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 Michigan's TB Free status was revoked in 2000 following a comprehensive surveillance of livestock, but was granted split-state status in 2004 to allow eradication efforts to focus on the area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."
Bovine tuberculosis is spread to livestock by wild deer through direct contact or from contaminated food or water. Financial assistance from the USDA will 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.
Financial assistance will be available to livestock producers in Alcona, Alpena, Antrim, Charlevoix, Cheboygan, Crawford, Emmet, Montmorency, Presque Isle, Oscoda and Otsego counties.
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.