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Foot and mouth disease has ranchers worried

by RC staff and news services

The threat of foot-and-mouth disease may be an ocean away, but its potential migration to domestic livestock has some Carson Valley ranchers worried.

Lifetime Carson Valley cattle rancher Arnold Settelmeyer says there is a risk of the disease coming to the United States.

”We hope we can learn from other people’s mistakes so it will never happen here,” he said. ”We’re not immune.”

Settelmeyer, whose family has grazed beef cattle in the Minden-Gardnerville area since the 1890s, said he wasn’t aware of a single historical case of foot-and-mouth disease in Northern Nevada.

Joe Guild, president of the Nevada Cattlemen’s Association, said that safeguards in the United States should prevent any outbreak.

”I think our country has got the most regulated food supply in the world and, consequently, it’s the safest,” he said. ”We’re in no danger in this state and in this country.”

Ranching consultant and Douglas County Commissioner Jacques Etchegoyhen said outbreaks like this are something ranchers worry about. But as long as they are cautious, there shouldn’t be a problem.

“That’s the fabulous thing about our food industry here in America. We’re the safest as far as regulation in the world,” Etchegoyhen said.

“I also think the idea of these outbreaks happening does point to the problem with certain groups like NAFTA where we would be getting food produced in other countries.

“(The cattle associations) have talked about this issue. There is a group of us that meet every Wednesday evening in the Carson Valley to discuss issues, and certainly, this has been a recent topic of discussion.

“Obviously, the concern is if an outbreak like foot-and-mouth did get here, it would be devastating not only to sheep and cattle, but to all wildlife in the area. Hopefully, we can keep it away,” said Etchegoyhen.

Steve Lewis of the University of Nevada Extension Office in Gardnerville said the worldwide media attention placed on foot-and-mouth disease is valid and there are concerns.

“I can think back to the Allar scare and the panic that it caused with apple growers. A lot of apple growers went out of business because of a media scare,” Lewis said.

“There is quality assurance, and the public should know that and know the livestock industry wants the public to know that food safety is very important to them,” he said.