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Miller shuts down spray box operations

July 31, 2018

Texas Agriculture Commissioner Sid Miller made a surprise visit to the Rio Grande Valley Monday morning following complaints about cattle dying from a method to apply an insecticide used in the Cattle Fever Tick Eradication Program.

After a personal inspection, Miller ordered a stoppage to the use of spray boxes to apply Co-Ral to cattle in the eight-county quarantine zone along the border with Mexico, according to a press release.

“Ranchers had complained to me about their cattle dying from these spray boxes, so I went to South Texas to check it out,” Miller said in a press release. “From my personal observation, the insecticide was being used in violation of the label so I shut them down.”

The United States Department of Agriculture-Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service, or USDA-APHIS, in conjunction with the Texas Animal Health Commission, operate the Cattle Fever Tick Eradication Program to eliminate and stop cattle fever ticks, which may carry a disease called bovine babesiosis, from crossing into the United States from Mexico.

The disease results in the destruction of red blood cells in cattle, resulting in anemia, fever and death and could be devastating to Texas’ cattle industry if an infected cattle fever tick made it out of the quarantine zone, according to the Texas Agriculture Department.

mreagan@brownsvilleherald.com

A more complete version of this story is available at www.myBrownsvilleHerald.com

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Miller shuts down spray box operations

By Mark Reagan

Staff Writer

Texas Agriculture Commissioner Sid Miller made a surprise visit to the Rio Grande Valley Monday morning following complaints about cattle dying from a method to apply an insecticide used in the Cattle Fever Tick Eradication Program.

After a personal inspection, Miller ordered a stoppage to the use of spray boxes to apply Co-Ral to cattle in the eight-county quarantine zone along the border with Mexico, according to a press release.

“Ranchers had complained to me about their cattle dying from these spray boxes, so I went to South Texas to check it out,” Miller said in a press release. “From my personal observation, the insecticide was being used in violation of the label so I shut them down.”

The United States Department of Agriculture-Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service, or USDA-APHIS, in conjunction with the Texas Animal Health Commission, operate the Cattle Fever Tick Eradication Program to eliminate and stop cattle fever ticks, which may carry a disease called bovine babesiosis, from crossing into the United States from Mexico. The disease results in the destruction of red blood cells in cattle, resulting in anemia, fever and death and could be devastating to Texas’ cattle industry if an infected cattle fever tick made it out of the quarantine zone, according to the Texas Agriculture Department.

When spray boxes are used to apply Co-Ral, each animal enters the spray box and receives a dose of the insecticide. During Miller’s visit, he said he ordered the operation shut down after observing Co-Ral being applied contrary to its federally approved Environmental Protection Agency label.

Namely, the EPA requires animals to be sprayed in a non-ventilated area and for licensed applicators to be present during the application of Co-Ral.

“I also gave the state and federal authorities lawful alternatives for applying this insecticide, but they refused to implement those alternatives,” Miller said in a press release.

Those alternatives include dipping cattle in a vat of a solution containing Co-Ral, as well as being hand-spraying cattle.

Miller also complained that Co-Ral was being applied at seven times the recommended agriculture rate.

“Everybody agrees we need to fight Cattle Fever Ticks with everything we’ve got,” Miller said in a press release. “But here in Texas, we’re going to do it according to the law in a way that doesn’t kill cattle. The goal of the program is to protect cattle, not kill them. Our Texas ranchers had a concern about it and I listened and took action. I will ensure that other state and federal agencies do what they need to do to address this problem.”

A call to the USDA-APHIS press office in Washington D.C. seeking comment went unanswered late Monday afternoon.

mreagan@brownsvilleherald.com

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