Disease outbreak alarms Montana's ranchers

HELENA — The future of Montana's cattle industry, some say, is in the hands of the federal government and a Bridger ranching couple.
calendar icon 9 July 2007
clock icon 1 minute read
Ranchers and livestock groups from the state and around the country are anxiously watching negotiations between Jim and Sandy Morgan and the U.S. Department of Agriculture's Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service over the couple's quarantined cattle.

Seven cows from their ranch tested positive for brucellosis in May, and Montana could lose its coveted brucellosis-free status if the Morgans' herd isn't slaughtered within 60 days of that discovery — which is July 17.

Concerns are mounting that a deal won't be reached in time.

State Sen. Bob Story, R-Park City, raised the issue at an Environmental Quality Council meeting last week, and state Board of Livestock members peppered acting state veterinarian Jeanne Rankin with questions during a conference call Tuesday.

"We're looking at a timeline here, and the board needs to know what steps to take if negotiations fall apart," board chairman William Hedstrom told Rankin.

Board members plan to meet again this Wednesday for an update and to "take some kind of action" if a deal isn't brokered, he said.

Source: The Seattle Times

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