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Cattlemen backed to evaluate bovine TB test options

Funding for a new diagnostic test for bovine tuberculosis in cattle that will be simpler and more cost-effective for regulatory agencies to administer was announced Tuesday by Agriculture Minister Gerry Ritz.

Nearly $320,000 has been set aside through the Canadian Agricultural Adaptation Program (CAAP) to help the Canadian Cattlemen’s Association evaluate alternative bovine TB tests that are expected to be more reliable and cost-effective than the current tuberculin skin test. 

“We continue to invest in finding new and cost-effective screening tests to detect animal diseases,” Ritz said at the CCA’s annual fall picnic on Parliament Hill, an annual gathering of beef producers from across the country.

“The faster we can pinpoint disease, the shorter the downtime for our hardworking cattle producers and the sooner they can get their businesses back up and running.”

The CCA, in a separate release, said the funding will assist the Beef Cattle Research Council-led project to evaluate commercial tests for bovine TB developed by diagnostic companies, and identify those tests that provide a rapid, reliable and accurate diagnosis.

The CCA is to work with regulatory agencies such as the Canadian Food Inspection Agency and the U.S. Department of Agriculture to design and provide input to the evaluation study.

If successful, the study will identify one or a combination of tests that will be less cumbersome and less expensive for regulatory agencies to administer.

“Having a rapid, simple and inexpensive blood test that can detect bovine TB in cattle will help to achieve the final eradication of this insidious disease sooner than is possible with existing tools,” CCA president Travis Toews said in the government’s release.

CAAP, which ends in 2014, is a five-year, $163-million initiative meant to help the Canadian agricultural sector adapt and remain competitive.

— Daniel Winters is a reporter with the Manitoba Co-operator near Oak Lake, Man.

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