m2714 BC-MN-XGR-BovineTB 1stLd-Writethru 04-02 0241
Plan to eradicate bovine TB clears Minn. Senate panel
Eds: RECASTS lead, ADDS quote from Skoe, USDA funding to fight bovine TB.
ST. PAUL (AP) — A Minnesota Senate panel voted Wednesday for a plan to contain and eradicate bovine tuberculosis in part of northwestern Minnesota where the disease has infected both cattle and deer.
The Finance Committee approved the bill from Sen. Rod Skoe, DFL-Clearbrook.
Its main provision is a $3.5 million buyout and fencing program for herd owners in the outbreak area.
Ranchers and farmers could sell their herds for $500 per head, plus ongoing yearly payments of $75 per head until the area is disease-free. The animals would be destroyed.
Livestock owners could also get aid to put up more fences separating cattle from deer, since bovine TB spreads through contact between the animals.
Skoe said livestock owners have recognized the need for aggressive, quick action against the disease.
"This is a hard disease to control," he said.
Separately, the U.S. Department of Agriculture said it will spend $16.8 million to eradicate bovine tuberculosis in Minnesota, Michigan and California. The money will go toward culling infected cattle herds and extra surveillance of white-tailed deer that might be carrying the illness.
Bovine TB infects cattle, bison, deer, elk, goats and other species.