SPRINGFIELD – Governor Rod R. Blagojevich today announced additional funds are now available to continue critical, on-the-farm surveillance for bovine spongiform encephalopathy (BSE), a fatal brain-wasting disease commonly known as Mad Cow Disease. To guard against Mad Cow Disease outbreaks, in February, the Governor unveiled an incentive plan to pay producers for their downer cattle submitted for testing and reimburse them for mileage. The response to the plan was so great that the funds were quickly depleted and the U.S. Department of Agriculture Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (USDA-APHIS) recognized the need to make additional incentive funding available to Illinois.
“We must remain vigilant and safeguard the public against BSE outbreaks. Through our surveillance program, we will continue to monitor cattle for the disease and protect our food supply,” said Gov. Blagojevich.
As part of the national Enhanced BSE Surveillance Program, the USDA-APHIS has made funds available to reimburse producers for transportation of cattle to the Illinois Department of Agriculture’s labs in Galesburg and Centralia as well as the University of Illinois Diagnostic lab in Urbana to be tested for the fatal brain-wasting disease.
“It is crucial to remain aggressive in testing downed cattle for the presence of BSE to ensure public safety and keep consumer confidence high,” Agriculture Director Chuck Hartke said. “Because the slaughter of downed cattle is prohibited at slaughter facilities, we have to rely on producers to have their downed cattle tested and these incentives will help us to monitor these cattle more effectively.”
In order for producers to qualify for the mileage reimbursement, the cattle submitted for testing must be older than 30 months. The incentive will pay the producer $2.00 per loaded mile, or mileage one-way to the lab. The producer must call either the laboratory or IDOA prior to transporting the animal.
The expanded BSE surveillance on farms will have no impact on the surveillance underway in state-inspected slaughter facilities. Meat inspectors will continue to monitor cattle for the disease in those facilities.