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Commissioner Miller Offers Compromise On Cattle Spray Boxes But Agencies Don't Show (8/8/2018)

COMMISSIONER MILLER OFFERS COMPROMISE ON CATTLE SPRAY BOXES BUT AGENCIES DON'T SHOW
At “spray box summit” state and federal agencies responsible for spray boxes refused to attend to discuss options

(AUSTIN) Yesterday, at a special meeting scheduled last week to address the issue of cattle spray boxes, Texas Agriculture Commissioner Sid Miller presented a compromise solution that would allow the boxes in South Texas to reopen immediately . . . but state and federal agencies weren’t around to hear it. Minutes before the scheduled start time of the meeting, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), U.S. Department of Agriculture Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (USDA APHIS), and Texas Animal Health Commission (TAHC) – the agencies in charge of the spray boxes – called to cancel their attendance. They offered no explanation.

“It’s hard to make a deal with thin air,” said Miller. “I’ve got a proposal to get those spray boxes open again, but everyone has to come to the table. That’s what Texans expect. Running and hiding isn’t the way we do business in Texas."

In a letter to the absent agencies, Miller outlined a solution that, if accepted, would reopen the spray boxes immediately for 45 days until a more permanent solution to the ventilation problem could be presented to TDA. During this time, Commissioner Miller requested that USDA APHIS and TAHC allow Texas cattle producers an opportunity to exempt a percentage of their more vulnerable cattle, such as the baby calves or the older, weaker livestock, from treatment in the spray boxes.

One possible permanent solution could be alllowing the cow's head to be held outside the spray box in a head gate during application of the insecticide. This would meet the ventilation requirement of the federally-approved label and prevent the cow from inhaling the vaporized coumaphos, a toxic organophosphate (brand name Co-Ral, manufacured by Monsanto / Bayer).

Also, USDA APHIS must present TDA with a Memorandum of Understanding that allows Texas Animal Health Commission to act as their onsite agent to apply the pesticide. The current label requires the pesticide to be applied under the supervision of a licensed applicator.

Commissioner Miller also met with Texas cattle industry representatives separately to discuss options to get the spray boxes back into operation. Representatives discussed Commissioner's compromise and offered to attempt to bring the other agencies back to the table.

“As a farmer and rancher myself, I know that every day these agencies delay, the Texas beef industry suffers,” said Miller. “They deserve a prompt response. There is no time to waste.”

An eighth-generation Texas farmer and rancher, Sid Miller is the 12th Commissioner of the Texas Department of Agriculture (TDA). A nine-time world champion rodeo cowboy, he has devoted his life to promoting Texas agriculture, rural communities and the western heritage of Texas. Learn more about the Texas Department of Agriculture and Commissioner Miller at www.texasagriculture.gov.
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