Press Release

CONGRESSMAN HENRY CUELLAR ANNOUNCES $5.2 MILLION TO CONTROL CATTLE FEVER TICKS ON BORDER

Cuellar resolute in his efforts for South Texas ranchers

f t # e
Washington, March 20, 2008 | Yolanda C. Urrabazo ((202) 225-1640) | comments

Today, Congressman Henry Cuellar announced news of $ 5.2 million made available from the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS). The funding will be used to control outbreaks of cattle fever ticks occurring outside a permanent quarantine zone between Texas and Mexico.

An increased number of outbreaks within the permanent quarantined zone points to the detrimental activity occurring outside the permanent quarantine zone.  The new available funding will provide more people, surveillance, training and treatments to ensure the containment and early detection of new infestations outside the permanent quarantine zone. 

Funds will be used for more mounted inspectors to patrol against livestock harboring ticks crossing into Texas from Mexico and additional animal health technicians to control outbreaks and surveillance outside the permanent quarantine zone.

Congressman Henry Cuellar has been resolute in his efforts to resolve the crisis South Texas ranchers face in the 28th District. Cuellar has worked closely with the USDA to draw attention to the issue as it occurs in Zapata, Jim Hogg, Starr, La Salle and Hidalgo Counties; spoken with the Secretary of Agriculture personally about the issue; included an appropriation request for funds to eradicate the fever tick; and inserted an amendment in the 2007 Farm Bill, legislation pending committee completion which is expected to mandate additional fever tick programs.

“Cattle fever ticks have been a significant problem for U.S. cattlemen since the early 20th century,” said Cuellar. “Though the USDA eradication program eliminated cattle fever ticks nationwide by 1943, there still exists the narrow buffer zone along the border with Mexico which has been continually reinfested.”

The cattle ticks detected beyond the quarantine area have been attributed to a rise in ticks being transported across the Rio Grande River by wildlife, stray livestock or livestock illicitly moved into the United States; weather patterns and rainfall amounts that favor tick survival; movement of cattle from infested pastures to non-infested areas where ticks may infest and spread through wildlife; discovery of cattle fever ticks resistant to a variety of pesticides.

The two types of cattle fever ticks, B. annulatus and B. microplus, are among the most serious external parasites of cattle, carrying bovine babesiosis, a disease which leads to anemia, and ultimately, death to cattle.  

“The stakes are very high,” Cuellar said. “The expenses to ranchers in these areas are significant, including hauling cattle to dipping tanks, losing cattle due to hauling, and reduced market value of cattle.  I have worked relentlessly with my staff, with ranchers directly impacted, and with USDA.”

“So many individuals played a key role in researching and raising awareness of this issue, including the Texas Southwestern Cattlemen Association, The South Texans Property Rights Association, Texas Cattle Feeders, Livestock Marketing Association, Zapata County Chamber of Commerce, Texas A&M University and Texas A&M Kingsville’s Cesar Kleberg Wildlife Rearch Center. I am pleased our efforts have paid off with this news of funding for this program.”

###

Congressman Henry Cuellar is a member of the House Homeland Security, Small Business, and Agriculture Committees in the 110th Congress; accessibility to constituents, education, health care, economic development and national security are his priorities. Congressman Cuellar is also a Senior Whip.

f t # e