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Tuesday, Aug 15th, 2017

Montana to ban Mexican Roping Cattle

The Montana Department of Livestock board has voted to ban Mexican sourced roping cattle from the state of Montana. With all of the turmoil going on in the world today I'm not going to be dramatic over the board's initial decision that is based on concerns of Tuberculosis (TB). Although this will fiscally affect the roping industry I'm positive that this ban will not shut down the rodeo or team roping industry in Montana.
There are native grown cattle, Longhorns, Shorthorns, Herefords and muleys at our disposal to rope-we have options. However, it's still frustrating being held hostage by the politicians, bureaucrats and other factors outside of our control. I want to explain what is occurring, some of the facts on the table and point out some of the hypocrisies and frustrations as I see them.
I was told this action was initiated when Montana's legislature ag committee chairmen requested the state veterinarian's office impose tougher restrictions on M branded cattle (Mexican cattle), even though Montana has one of the most stringent requirements of all states in the union. Currently the USDA requires at least 1 TB test prior to entry into the United States, which most states accept. Additionally, Montana requires another TB test prior to gaining entry into the state's borders. You would think that the minimum of two USDA tests would prove the animal does not have TB. If the tests results are not reliable, fix the tests.
I've also been told that the current testing requirements have done their job, there has never been a positive TB Mexican roping steer identified in the state. And to be clear, the new ban still allows M branded feeder cattle into the state, it ONLY outlaws M branded roping steers. This is because of an unfounded theory that roping steers are more prevalent to be carriers of TB, namely because they are around for longer and travel to multiple arenas. We, as ropers, know this is not true, they typically last a short season. 
I would like to see the study that shows that bovines with horns have more susceptibility of TB then bovines without horns-that's a wild theory, a bovine is a bovine. So why take this drastic measure of banning an industry? I'm not sure. The facts are that there have been significant strides in the eradication of TB both here in the United States and in Mexico. The facts also show that Mexican cattle are not the only source of TB but also wildlife and even humans can infect cattle with TB. 
I don't think we have to step off the cliff and ban an industry. I would rather work with the Department of Livestock and arrive at new regulations that are workable. Today, Montana allows M branded roping cattle but in the future it will not. Let's work together with the citizens of this great state of Montana and the Montana Department of Livestock to come up with a solution, one that doesn't ban an industry based on unfounded theories.
This Wednesday, August 16, 2017, at 1:00 p.m., the Department of Livestock will hold a public hearing at the Billings Livestock Commission (2443 N. Frontage Road, Billings, MT 59101) to consider the proposed amendment to ban M branded roping steers, I would hope you can attend.
If you can't make the hearing the Department of Livestock has also asked that concerned parties call the Department at (406) 444-9321 or email your comments to MDOLcomments@mt.gov. Just drop them a note, that let them know you are not in favor of this proposed rule change, which in effect would ban an industry.
Thanks for your time,

Ty Yost