Cattle growers wary of livestock ID program

By Argen Duncan

If the discussion is a system to trace diseases in cattle, New Mexico already has a sufficient system in place, members of the New Mexico Cattle Growers’ Association said.

The group covered several topics at its southeast regional meeting Tuesday night at the Roosevelt County Fairgrounds.

According to information from the Cattle ID Group, made up of cattle industry organizations, in February, the U.S. Department of Agriculture announced new regulatory framework for identifying livestock and tracing their interstate movements. Such a system would allow animals carrying diseases to be traced back to their source.

Charlie Rogers of Clovis, who is involved with the Cattle ID Group, said the organization had held conference calls to tell department representatives that tracking all types and ages of livestock would be difficult.

“If we can start with adult (cattle), it has a possibility of working and evolving,” Rogers said.

Cattle 18 months old or older are considered adults.

The department is to issue minimum standards this winter, he said.

Cattle Growers’ Association President Bert Ancell said the brands in New Mexico allow cattle to be traced to the state line.

“A lot of states out there have nothing,” he said.

Under federal regulations, Ancell said, states will have to create tracing systems to meet a mandate he said was unfunded.

Attendees also discussed:

• the bovine sexually transmitted disease Trichomoniasis, which can cause infertility or late calving. Southeast regional Vice President Pat Boone of Elida said he didn’t think people could wipe the disease out, but they could get it under control.

• border security. Michelle Frost of the association said the United States needs to stop people from crossing the border illegally and then deal with immigration issues.

Ancell said wilderness preserves shouldn’t be established within 50 miles of the Mexican border. Such preserves reduce the efficiency of patrols, he said.

• a proposed cap and trade program and requirement to drop greenhouse gas emissions to 25 percent below 1990 levels by 2015, Frost said. Association intern Leticia Varelas said those regulations proposed by the New Mexico Environment Department would hurt the agriculture and oil and gas industries.

The department has recommended that people eat less red meat to decrease their carbon footprint, she said. Cattle give off greenhouse gases in their flatulence.

• protected waters. Frost said the Environment Department is seeking to regulate and restrict the use of streams that are running all year in wilderness areas to keep water quality from dropping. This could keep cattle from grazing near the water, and Frost said a large amount of water would be affected and the restrictions could eventually extend past wilderness areas.