Farm Bureau Policy Development Fact Sheet No. 10 — 2012 BEEF CATTLE PROBLEMS AND ISSUES BRUCELLOSIS – TRACEABILITY – FUNDING ANIMAL HEALTH PROGRAMS The overall profile of Arkansas’ efforts toward controlling and/or eliminating animal diseases may be ripe for revision --- or, at least, subject to reasoned scrutiny. Arkansas Livestock and Poultry Commission is the agency charged with implementing the state’s animal health programs and regulations. Various issues that face Arkansas’ cattle industry and the L&PC are presented below. The Brucellosis Program: Arkansas achieved Class Free status in 1997. The program currently consists of market surveillance (testing adult cows at markets) and requiring calfhood vaccination on all eligible heifers sold at markets and returning to Arkansas farms. Both L&PC personnel and private veterinarians provide vaccination services. As of now, Arkansas is the only state that is requiring cows to be tested at markets. We, too, are the only state that has a requirement on calfhood vaccination. Our current program is primarily supported by the $1per-head fee on all cattle sold. Both state and federal funds, that were once available for this program, have been severely lowered or eliminated. Also, the $1 fee is generating less revenue due to a somewhat smaller cattle inventory in the state and a higher number of Arkansas cattle being sold directly in other states; therefore, avoiding the fee. Related Policy: Beef cattle 115, Animal Health Emergency Management Preparedness N-303 1. 2. 3.
Should Arkansas consider changes to its brucellosis program? What level of testing is needed for cows in commerce? At what level should calfhood vaccination be available to producers?
Arkansas Livestock and Poultry Commission: This agency administers all livestock and poultry health regulations in the state. Overall its funding is about 2/3 from various fees and 1/3 state and federal funds, almost the exact opposite of its funding sources of 10 years ago. A battery of livestock inspectors are used to implement many of its core programs; such as testing cows at markets, on-farm vaccinations, county fair health inspections, EIA surveillance, addressing emergency animal health situations, and dealing with other animal health issues. To maintain this field force, the agency has suggested that the current $1 fee be increased. In addition, there is support for changing the law to allow funds from this fee to be used for other cattle health issues and not exclusively for brucellosis. Related Policy: Livestock and Poultry Commission 138, Beef Cattle 115, Poultry 117, Equine 129, Animal Care 145, Animal Health Emergency Preparedness N-303 1.
Should the current brucellosis fee be changed to a more general “animal health” fee?
Is there adequate support for increasing this fee to continue the level of services provided by the L&PC?
Animal Disease Traceability: The Animal Disease Traceability Program (or animal ID) will likely be put in place by next year. Final rules governing this program are scheduled to be published this fall. At this point, requirements will be put in place for all adult cattle moving in interstate commerce to be identified. Animals will need to be tagged and numbers recorded when shipped out-of-state. At some level, personnel will need to be available at markets to implement this “traceability” effort. Currently, cattle must have a health certificate to move interstate. When “traceability” becomes effective, animal ID numbers will also have to accompany these “health papers.” Should livestock inspectors be utilized to facilitate the traceability program or should it be implemented solely by market operators and veterinarians at these markets? Should livestock inspectors be used, then they will need to be supported by some fee structure. If markets and their vets are primarily responsible, then there will likely be per head handling fees to support this approach. Several states have already begun identifying adult cattle on a fee-basis system. Related Policy: Beef Cattle 115, Animal Health Emergency Preparedness N-303 1. 2.
What approach(s) should be taken to implement the “traceability” program in Arkansas? How should this program be funded?
Other Animal Health Issues: The L&PC is responsible for regulating other cattle health concerns; such as, trichomoniasis in bulls, certain animal disposal cases, the state brand registry, livestock dealer licensing, age and source verification and emergency animal diseases. The agency also administers state funds provided to county fairs, operates the state diagnostic lab, as well as, the state’s poultry and egg inspection services and the National Poultry Improvement Plan. Other regulations are administered as they affect other livestock species. Related Policy: Animal Health Care 145, Livestock and Poultry Commission 138 1.
Are any changes needed in the array of programs and services provided by the Arkansas Livestock and Poultry Commission?
Future Structure and Funding for Arkansas’ Animal Health Programs: Given the discussion points above (and any others that may arise), a basic consideration is adequate funding for the L&PC to implement its animal health mission. With the current level of funding support, a reduction in programs and services may be required in the near future. Reduced expenditures on the brucellosis program may be in order from a disease control standpoint and would allow the agency to cope with its existing budget; however, it would require fewer personnel available to monitor cattle moving through markets. These same personnel may be needed to implement the Animal Disease Traceability Program when it becomes effective and to continue calfhood vaccination and other livestock industry services.
Related Policy: Livestock & Poultry Commission 138, Beef Cattle 115, Animal Care 145, Animal Health Emergency Preparedness N-303 1.
Is it important that the Livestock and Poultry Commission maintain a field force to engage in providing animal health services and monitoring the health status of cattle moving through markets? Should the state’s animal health programs be provided by the L&PC and funded with an “animal health” fee? … Or should these programs shift toward a separate fee structure for each service provided by markets and their veterinarians? How should the situation be handled whereby cattle producers receive on-farm vaccination and other services; yet, by selling their animals out-of-state, do not contribute to funding the agency?
THE BEEF CHECKOFF PROGRAM The $1 per head beef checkoff program was established in 1987 as a means for the cattle industry to promote its product. Funds generated by the program are used for advertising, promotion, consumer information, research and market development activities. Under this program, half of each dollar collected is forwarded to the Cattlemen’s Beef Board for use on the national level. The remaining half remains instate for statewide programs and projects. All funds, whether state or national, are governed by the same spending guidelines. Current Checkoff Program Operations: In Arkansas, this program is administered by the Arkansas Beef Council – a seven member panel appointed by the governor. This council operates as a state agency and is accountable, not only to cattle producers, but must also comply with both state and national budget standards and guidelines. Nationally, the program is governed by the Cattlemen’s Beef Board – a 112-member group with representation from each state based on their cattle population, as well as, importers. Checkoff Program Funding: In Arkansas, the beef checkoff currently generates between $900 thousand and $1 million. After the split with the national group, the Arkansas Beef Council operates on an annual budget of some $450 thousand. This level of funding has been drifting lower over the past few years as the state’s cattle population has declined. The downward trend in funding has been more dramatic, nationally. The current national budget of $40 million represents the lowest level of collections since the program began 25 years ago. Given inflation, a checkoff rate of $2.50 would be required to match the purchasing power of the original $1. Several states have already increased their in-state checkoff rate. Related Policy: Beef cattle 115, Beef Industry N-306 1.
Use of beef checkoff funds is not allowed for certain types of activities; such as, research on cattle production and activities that promote the sale of live cattle.
What is the level of interest in being able to use checkoff funds for these purposes? Any funds generated in the state by the checkoff, above the $1 per head rate, do not have to adhere to national spending requirements. Arkansas’ current beef checkoff law would allow spending on production research, market promotion and selected other activities not available by national standards. Would cattle producers support an increase in the Arkansas beef checkoff to $2 per-head? … $1.50?...
OTHER ISSUES Animal welfare/animal care – related restrictions on production practices? Prohibition of photography on livestock operations without owner consent? Prohibition on the use of poultry litter as feed? Fire protection tax on grasslands?
If you need additional information on these and other issues concerning the beef cattle industry or if you desire assistance with your county policy development meeting, contact Travis Justice, Beef Cattle Division Coordinator at 501-228-1211 or via e-mail at email@example.com.]