Minnesota applying for Bovine TB-Free status

This week, the Minnesota Board of Animal Health announced it will submit an application for statewide Bovine Tuberculosis-Free status at the end of this month. The Board expects the application to be approved late summer or early fall of this year.

Since the disease was first identified in a beef herd in 2005, the Board, Minnesota Departments of Agriculture and Natural Resources, and USDA have worked with Minnesota livestock producers and veterinarians to eliminate remaining TB infection. Since 2008, Minnesota has held a Split-State Status, with Northwest Minnesota one step below the rest of the state.

During that time, 733,000 cattle have been tested for the disease. We have passed legislation at the state level to help farmers absorb some of the costs of meeting testing requirements, and it seems to have worked well. Deer populations also have been monitored, with 2010 marking the first calendar year since 2005 with no confirmed Bovine TB-positive wild deer.

Even if TB-Free status is reached, the state will continue to monitor certain cattle herds and deer herds. Farmers in the Modified Accredited Advanced Zone would no longer be required to obtain permits or test individual animals prior to moving cattle, but an additional whole-herd test would be required after the state obtains TB-Free status. Producers in the smaller Management Zone would continue slightly modified testing and movement requirements. The DNR also will continue assessing deer populations in the Bovine TB area until it is demonstrated that the disease has been completely eliminated in deer.

Reaching Bovine TB-Free status would relieve most Minnesota cattle restrictions, but the Board still recommends livestock owners contact the state of destination if animals will be moved across state lines. Other states may require additional testing, permits or official livestock identification.

In any case, obtaining this status will be a big relief to Minnesota farmers. It also will be positive recognition of the effort that livestock owners and the state have put into eradicating this disease in a very short time period. Michigan, for instance, has been fighting this disease for more than 20 years at a cost of over $100 million. For Minnesota to be on track to reaching TB-free status in the near future speaks volumes about the efforts we took to address the disease so quickly. It’s also a testament to the farmers, producers and land owners in our area, who have worked closely with state officials to turn this problem around. It’s not an easy thing to ask the livestock industry to adopt so many new regulations, but without that cooperation, we’d be much further behind on our goals.

As a reminder for 2010 income taxes, producers that pay to test their cattle for Bovine TB are eligible to receive a tax credit for 50 percent of the testing-related expenses, including veterinarian fees, labor expenses and equipment rental fees. Corporate and S-corporation taxpayers are eligible for a 25 percent credit. More information may be found on the Department of Revenue’s Web site at www.taxes.state.mn.us by clicking on Individual Income Tax and searching available tax credits. If you filed your income taxes and did not claim this credit, you may want to consider filing an amended return.

-30-

Senator Rod Skoe
Rod Skoe represents District 2, which includes all or portions of Becker, Beltrami, Clearwater, Hubbard, Lake of the Woods, Mahnomen, Otter Tail and Wadena counties in the northwestern part of the state. He chairs the Tax Committee.

Read more news from Sen. Skoe.
Senator Rod Skoe on sabflickrSenator Rod Skoe on sabemail