(AP) - The U.S. Department of Agriculture on Thursday announced "split state status" for bovine tuberculosis in Minnesota, a move that's expected to help most of the state's producers by lessening costly testing requirements for the disease.
Minnesota's bovine TB status was downgraded earlier this year after a new case of the highly contagious pulmonary disease surfaced in northwestern Minnesota.
The downgrade meant all Minnesota cattle and bison producers moving animals across state lines had to adhere to stricter testing requirements.
Meanwhile, state agriculture officials worked on a plan to isolate the downgraded status to the affected area of northwestern Minnesota, which includes parts of Roseau, Marshall, Lake of the Woods and Beltrami counties.
Under the split state status, which takes affect Friday, herds in the "modified accredited" zone in northwestern Minnesota will still have to follow more stringent shipping and testing requirements. The rest of the state will be upgraded to "modified accredited advanced" on the USDA's five-point scale.
In approving the status, USDA officials said the state still must complete targeted testing in the rest of the state during the next 12 months.
Joe Martin, assistant commissioner for the state Department of Agriculture, said the approval of the new status comes at a good time for producers who traditionally move feeder cattle in the fall. An estimated 200,000 Minnesota cattle cross state lines each year.
The state will continue to work with producers to regain "accredited free" status, the highest USDA classification, Martin said.
The new split state status is also expected to help state officials focus their disease eradication efforts on northwestern Minnesota, said state veterinarian Dr. Bill Hartmann.
All farms in the northwestern Minnesota zone will have a wildlife evaluation to create a plan to prevent livestock from coming in contact with deer and other wildlife which could spread the disease.
"Split state status is welcome news for the majority of Minnesota's cattle producers who have been dedicated partners in animal disease prevention," Hartmann said in a written statement.
(Copyright 2008 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)