February 3, 1998

Engler Announces Bovine Tuberculosis Eradication Coordinator

Former Representative Bob Bender to Serve in Key Position

Governor John Engler today announced that former Representative Bob Bender has been named Bovine Tuberculosis Eradication Coordinator for the State of Michigan. Bender will work within the Department of Community Health and will work cooperatively with the Departments of Agriculture and Natural Resources to oversee the eradication of bovine tuberculosis in Michigan wild deer.

"Bob Bender is a leader in the agricultural community," said Engler. "His knowledge and expertise will be critical to myself and our departments as we work to protect the public health, USDA tuberculosis-free accreditation for Michigan cattle, wildlife health, wildlife related recreation and tourism."

Bender, of Middleville, served as a member of the House of Representatives for twelve years where he served on the Appropriations Committee and was minority chair of the Agriculture Appropriations Subcommittee. He also Chaired a task force on agricultural export development. Bender owned and operated a 1100 acre, 500 head dairy and crop farm and served as President of the Barry County Farm Bureau Board of Directors.

Most recently, Bender has served as a volunteer with the United State Peace Corps where he has assisted the residents of Voronezh, Russia learn about agricultural business development. He earned a Bachelor of Science degree in Agriculture Education from Michigan State University.

The state surveillance program for bovine tuberculosis, a cooperative effort among the Michigan Departments of Agriculture, Natural Resources and Community Health, United States Department of Agriculture (USDA), Michigan State University, livestock producers, hunters and private hunt club owners has proven effective with the discovery of the disease in a captive white-tailed deer herd in Presque Isle County.

The surveillance program was put in place in 1995 to determine the extent of the problem, and to make sure the disease did not spread to livestock in the area of intensive surveillance Alcona, Alpena, Montmorency, Oscoda and Presque Isle counties.

Engler recently outlined key components for the eradication strategy which include a mandatory feeding ban in the affected five county area in order to prevent any possibility of contamination to Michigan cattle.

The mandatory feeding ban is necessary in order to minimize the concentration of animals and crowding of deer to avoid the possible transmission of bovine tuberculosis. The disease is spread among animals through prolonged direct nose to nose exposure, which is why the goal is to disperse them back into their natural population.

Tuberculosis has not been confirmed in Michigan cattle. Tissue from five suspect cattle have been sent to the National Veterinary Services Laboratory at the USDA in Ames, Iowa for definitive determination. "There continues to be no reason for consumers to worry about the safety of their milk and meat supply," said Department of Community Health Director James K. Haveman. The suspect herd of cattle has been quarantined so there is no possibility of this suspect meat getting into the food chain. All Grade A milk in Michigan has been required for years to be pasteurized assuring the safety of Michigan's milk supply.

February 3, 1998 (517) 335-6397