Ranchers look beyond herd
MINDEN – Ranching consultant and Douglas County Commissioner Jaques Etchygoen said the outbreak of hoof-and-mouth poses dangers not only to area cattle ranches, but to area wildlife.
Etchygoen said that Carson Valley ranchers associations have been talking about the possible spread of the disease, and what its outcome may be.
Though essentially harmless to humans, the foot-and-mouth disease is deadly to cloven-footed livestock, causing blisters in the mouths and on the feet that can leave the animals unable to eat or stand. It will also harm cloven-hoofed wildlife.
“(The cattle associations) have talked about this issue. There is a group of us that meet every Wednesday evening in the Carson Valley to discuss issues and certainly this has been a recent topic of discussion.”
He said that the outbreaks of this nature are something that ranchers are always concerned about, but most have said that they should do fine.
“Obviously, the concern is if an outbreak like foot-and-mouth did get here, it would be devastating not only to sheep and cattle, but to all wildlife in the area,” he said. “Hopefully, we can keep it away.”
Joe Guild, president of the Nevada Cattlemen’s Association, agreed that safeguards in the United States should prevent any outbreak.
”I think our country has got the most regulated food supply in the world and consequently, it’s the safest,” he told the Associated Press. ”We’re in no danger in this state and in this country.”
Steve Lewis of the University of Nevada Extension Office in Gardnerville said the worldwide media attention placed on hoof-and-mouth disease is valid and there are concerns, but he questions whether the story is being sensationalized.
“I can think back to the Allar scare and the panic that it caused with apple growers. A lot of apple growers went out of business because of a media scare,” Lewis said.
“There is quality assurance, and the public should know that and know the livestock industry wants the public to know that food safety is very important to them,” he said.
Nevada state veterinarian David Thain said, ”For the grace of God go us. It could happen here.”
Thain said that no passengers arriving at the Reno airport come directly from Europe, but last year more than 46,600 passengers landed in Las Vegas on flights from London. Some 1,700 continued to Reno.
”There is the potential of exposure here, and it’s extremely contagious. That’s why this disease is such a bugger,” Thain said.
Longtime Carson Valley cattle rancher Arnold Settelmeyer agrees with Thain that there is a risk in this country.
”We hope we can learn from other people’s mistakes so it will never happen here,” he said to a Reno area newspaper. ”We’re not immune.”
Dramatically escalating its bid to stop the wildfire spread of foot-and-mouth disease, Britain announced plans Thursday to slaughter up to 100,000 animals that may have come in contact with the virus – in addition to more than 200,000 sheep, cows and pigs already killed or marked for death.Settelmeyer, whose family has grazed beef cattle in the Minden-Gardnerville area since the 1890s, said he wasn’t aware of a single case of foot-and-mouth disease in northern Nevada.
Etchygoen said that “The fabulous thing about our food industry here in America, we’re the safest as far as regulation in the world.”
He added: “I also think the idea of these outbreaks happening points to the problem with certain groups like NAFTA where we would be getting food produced in other countries.”
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