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USDA Awards $8.8 Million for Animal Disease Research

Agriculture Secretary Ann M. Veneman announced Wednesday that USDA will contribute $8.8 million to two international research collaboratives seeking to control and eliminate Johne's disease in cattle, sheep and goats and porcine reproductive and respiratory syndrome, or PRRS, in swine.

"These grants will support critical research, education and extension activities to develop practical applications against these diseases," said Veneman. "We are pleased to partner with the University of Minnesota's College of Veterinary Medicine on this project."

These diseases cause more than $800 million a year in losses to the industry and the consuming public.

"Project collaborators include more than 100 scientists and education experts from two dozen institutions in 20 states as well as experts in Canada, Mexico, Spain, Germany, the United Kingdom and Australia," said Joseph J. Jen, USDA undersecretary for Research, Education, and Economics.

Johne's disease is a chronic, infectious, wasting disease of cattle. Symptoms include chronic diarrhea and weight loss, decreased milk production, reduced fertility, and eventually death. An estimated 22% of all U.S. dairy herds are infected with Johne's disease.

Funding for the research was provided by USDA's Cooperative State Research, Education, and Extension Service (CSREES), USDA's leading research and education funding agency.

R-CALF Prepared to Defend U.S. Consumers and Cattle Industry from Mad Cow Disease

R-CALF United Stockgrowers of America (R-CALF USA) announced that it is prepared to defend American consumers and cattle herds in court if the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) follows through with plans to relax existing health and safety restrictions on imports of beef and cattle from countries affected by bovine spongiform encephalopathy (BSE) or "mad cow" disease.

"We are disappointed that USDA may abandon the science-based animal health regulations that serve as the primary firewall protecting the United States from BSE. We’re prepared to go to court to protect the safety of American consumers and our industry," said Leo McDonnell, President of R-CALF USA. "We are tired of USDA bowing to pressure from the Canadian government and multinational beef processors when the health of U.S. consumers and the cattle industry are at stake."

McDonnell said cattle producers who wish to join the effort to protect the U.S. cattle industry from the risks associated with relaxing the United State’s BSE prevention firewalls should contact R-CALF USA at 406-252-2516, or e-mail: r-calfusa@r-calfusa.com.

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