BOISE — Two pending rules that relax some import restrictions on livestock entering the state have been approved by the Idaho Legislature.

One of the rules involves dairy cattle headed for slaughter and the other affects all cattle and horses, and both are designed to make it easier for the state’s livestock industry to operate.

The new rules both have safeguards to ensure herd health is protected, said Scott Leibsle, deputy administrator of the Idaho State Department of Agriculture’s animal industries division.

One of the rule changes will allow dairy cattle imported into Idaho to be granted a tuberculosis testing exemption if they are consigned directly to feedlots approved for finish feeding.

This means they could be brought in under the testing exemption only if they are kept in the slaughter channel and used for no other purpose, said Leibsle, the deputy state veterinarian.

“You can’t milk them, you can’t breed them, you can’t send them out to graze; you can only send them to slaughter,” he said.

The Idaho Cattle Association petitioned for the rule change because of the benefit it could bring to the state’ feedlots, said ICA Executive Vice President Wyatt Prescott.

Because of the state’s previous rule requiring a tuberculosis test for dairy cattle, a lot of Holstein cows destined for slaughter have gone to other states, he said.

“This is an opportunity for our feeders in Idaho,” Prescott said.

A lot of Holsteins that were going to the National Beef Packing Co.’s Brawley, Calif., beef processing facility, which was shuttered last year, are bypassing Idaho and going to Washington and other states, said Cevin Jones, president and owner of Intermountain Beef, a commercial feedlot near Twin Falls.

Idaho’s previous brucellosis rule for dairy cows “has been hampering the ability of Idaho feedlots to get them here and put them on feed here,” Jones said. “If we can capture some of them here, it would be something that’s good for the feedlot industry in Idaho.”

Another rule approved by lawmakers this year would lift a prohibition on importing livestock that originate within a 10-mile radius of an outbreak of vesicular stomatitis, a viral disease that primarily affects horses and cattle but can also impact sheep and goats.

During a conference call with other state veterinarians last year, it became clear that Idaho’s vesicular stomatitis restriction wasn’t necessary because it differs from the nationwide standard, which is only to limit importation of animals from the affected premises, Leibsle said.

He said the virus is primarily linked to seasonal hatches of black flies and insect control is the main way to limit its spread.

Livestock entering Idaho from a state where the virus has been diagnosed within the last month are still required to have a veterinary certificate certifying they are free of vesicular stomatitis.

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