The Montana Department of Livestock is moving forward with a plan to more than double the number of counties that require vaccinating cattle against brucellosis.
Montana Stockgrowers Association spokesperson Kori Anderson says, "The only concern we have as an organization is the financial implications that could go along with this expansion."
Anderson says many cattle producers in the proposed counties are already vaccinating, but for those that aren’t, the change could affect their bottom line.
"It’s expensive to run all your cattle through a chute and give them an added vaccine."
Brucellosis is a disease that causes animals including cattle to abort their young. Mandatory vaccinations are already in place in four counties near Yellowstone National Park, where the park’s elk and bison are known to carry the disease.
A 2017 National Academy of Sciencesstudy found that wild elk are the primary source of brucellosis infections among cattle in the Greater Yellowstone area. There has not been a documented case of bison transmitting it to cattle in the wild.
The proposal to expand the vaccinations would require ranchers in five additional counties– Broadwater, Carbon, Jefferson, Stillwater and Sweet Grass– to vaccinate sexually intact female cattle more than a year old.
Anderson says despite its cost, the vaccine has clear benefits. Mandatory vaccinations, along with the delineation of the Designated Surveillance Area around Yellowstone seven years ago, she says have helped keep brucellosis in check and allowed Montana to continue exporting beef.