As expected, the Department of Agriculture in June downgraded Texas' accredited-free status for bovine tuberculosis because the disease was diagnosed in two herds last year.
Unless they are being shipped directly for slaughter, Texas breeding cattle and bison must now be identified and tested for bovine TB before crossing state lines.
Texas had achieved TB-free status in November 2000, with the exception of El Paso and Hudspeth counties, which had been "zoned out" because of new infections. The infected herds—two of an estimated 153,000 within Texas—were depopulated.
States in which at least two TB-infected herds are detected within a 48-month period lose their accredited-free status, according to USDA regulations (see JAVMA, May 1, 2002, page 1285).
So, there was little surprise when the USDA issued an interim rule June 3 downgrading Texas' bovine TB status to modified-accredited-advanced status.
"We've worked to prepare Texas cattle producers for the impact of this regulation change for several months and have conferred frequently with regulated industry associations," said Dr. Max Coats, assistant executive director of the Texas Animal Health Commission.
The USDA has delayed until Jan. 1, 2003, additional restrictions on moving feeder cattle out of the state, Dr. Cox added.
Untested breeding cattle and bison will be restricted to movement within Texas or directly to a slaughter plant, unless a buyer makes arrangements to have the animals held and tested after the sale.
Texas can regain accredited-free-status after two consecutive years without infection and an official USDA TB review.