Tester stands with Montana ranchers and sportsmen

Senator continues push to cut red tape and increase research for Brucellosis vaccine

(U.S. Senate)-Montana farmer and Senator Jon Tester is continuing to push the Obama Administration to eliminate burdensome regulations that are keeping researchers from studying a harmful bacteria that puts Montana cattle producers at risk.

In a letter to high-level Administration officials, Tester demanded the Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) and the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) to remove Brucella abortus, the bacteria that causes cattle to develop Brucellosis, from the Select Agents Registration List. Access to bacteria, viruses, and toxins that are currently on the Select Agents Registration List is highly restricted, virtually halting scientific research.

“Current government regulations are keeping researchers from identifying a Brucellosis vaccine for Montana ranchers,” Tester said. “As we continue to strike a balance between livestock production and wildlife management, it is critical that we remove these regulations to ensure we find solutions that benefit our ranchers and outdoor enthusiasts.”

Brucellosis can cause infertility and premature calving in cattle and elk.

“Current regulations have nearly eliminated efforts to conduct Brucellosis vaccine research, and removing those hurdles would greatly benefit Montana cattle producers. The Montana Stockgrowers Association thanks Senator Tester for his leadership on this issue,” said Errol Rice, Executive Vice President of Montana Stockgrowers Association.

“The Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation (RMEF) fully supports removing Brucella abortus from the Select Agents Registration List. Including Brucella abortus in the list has impeded vaccine research. While we don’t believe it’s possible to eradicate brucellosis in wildlife or to vaccinate free-ranging wildlife, we support research that could lead to more effective livestock vaccines. Removing Brucella abortus from the Select Agents list could facilitate the research necessary to accomplish that and help preserve traditional ranching operations in elk country. RMEF thanks Senator Tester for taking the reins on this issue to ensure Montana livestock are protected from brucellosis,” said David Allen, President and CEO of RMEF.

“This is an important step that would allow necessary research to fight brucellosis,” said Dave Chadwick, Executive Director of Montana Wildlife Federation. “Working together, we can protect the interests of Montana’s livestock producers and hunters. We applaud Senator Tester for his leadership on finding a solution that protects livestock and wildlife.”

In 2012, Tester urged APHIS and the CDC to delist Brucella abortus. Following pressure from Tester, both APHIS and CDC recommended removing Brucella abortus from the Select Agent Registration List. The proposal is currently open for public comment.

In 2014, Montana cattle producers generated more than $1 billion in sales and accounted for 40 percent of all agriculture production.

A list of the toxins currently on the Select Agent Registration List is available HERE and Tester’s letter is in online HERE.