- Spatio-temporal dynamics of condemnation cases in cattle slaughter plants in California and other US states from 2004-2015
- The meat and cattle industry is the largest segment of U.S. agriculture. In 2015 the US commercial slaughter 28.74 million head with the commercial carcass weight of 23.69 billion pounds (National Cattlemen’s Beef Association). Based on the data obtained from USDA in 2015, 141,450 carcasses were condemned in the US which is approximately 0.5% of the total cattle carcasses produced in the US. Beef price in 2015 was $6.29/lb (National Cattlemen’s Beef Association) thus the condemned carcass in the slaughter plants roughly cost $0.81 billion (0.5% x 23.69 billion lb x $6.29/lb) to the US producers. California (CA) holds one of the most important cattle industries in the US. A total of 21.3% of all condemnation cases from 2005-2015 in slaughter plants in US occurred in CA (USDA), which corresponds to approximately to $1,38 billion (307,966 heads condemned x 714 lb/carcass x $6.29/lb) in the total period and $0.18 billion when considering only 2015. A better knowledge of the spatio-temporal distribution and potential reasons of carcasses condemnation will allow to identify areas where management practices should be improved to reduce the economic impact related with carcass condemnations. Moreover, diagnostic cases could be used to identify areas with higher than expected condemnation cases that could be associated to inappropriate management or for syndromic surveillance of emerging and new diseases. To the best of our knowledge, very few studies, if any, have assessed the spatial and temporal dynamics and the economic impact associated with beef/carcass condemnations or quantified the value that the use of post-mortem information may have for syndromic surveillance in the US. There is also a need to identify reasons for condemnation cases in CA and nationwide that may be increasing/emerging and identify clusters or “hot spot” areas where condemnations are more frequent and abundant. This study will provide the foundations to inform the design of future studies to identify the main on-farm management practices and other factors that are responsible for carcass condemnations in the US, which is highly needed1. This research-extension and multi-state study aims, first, to describe and compare the spatial and temporal trends of the reported cattle diagnostic cases in slaughter plants in CA with those in the US and identify temporal and spatial patterns of condemned cases and their associated economic impact. The second aim will be to develop an extension component that include the creation of a dynamic website and an on-line learning tool to increase awareness of produces about main reasons of carcass condemnation by slaughter plant, type of cattle and state and recommendations to prevent them.
- Risk assessment of Brucella abortus introduction into California and cost-effectiveness evaluation of the current brucellosis vaccination program
Brucellosis is a serious infectious disease of cattle, caused by Brucella abortus, which can cause devastating economic losses to cattle industry. California has been classified a free of bovine brucellosis since 1997 and, according to a report from the USDA-APHIS 2017, all the United States are now free of brucellosis in cattle. However, brucellosis is still endemic in free ranging elk and bison populations in the Greater Yellowstone Area (GYA), which includes parts of Montana, Idaho, and Wyoming. The prevalence is estimated to be up to 60% in bison populations and 40% in elk populations, and it seems to be increasing. Therefore, the risk of transmitting brucellosis from these wildlife populations to domestic cattle still exists. Transmission among wildlife, mainly between elks, seems to be occurring particularly in winter when they gather together in the feed-grounds. However, transmission from wildlife to cattle is likely to occur mainly in late winter or early spring when bison, elk and cattle graze and share territory in low elevation grasslands outside Yellowstone. The cattle industry is a highly valuable industry for California and has high socio-economic impact in the overall US economy with revenue of $3.4 billion generated in 2015. California is the 4th state with the highest number of cattle (5.15 million heads), which implies frequent movement of cattle and livestock products with other states, including those where brucellosis is present in wildlife. For example, during 2015 cattle moving from Montana, Idaho, and Wyoming represented 10% of the total imported cattle into California. Therefore, introducing brucellosis into California with cattle imported from the GYA remains a concern. California maintains a brucellosis vaccination program, despite its high cost, to prevent the severe consequences of introduction of the disease from other states through movement of cattle. The vaccination program has provided good disease control, and has helped maintain California’s brucellosis-free status for nearly 20 years. However, now that the disease is in the final stage of eradication from domestic populations, the cost-effectiveness of the vaccination program is questionable. The money that livestock producers spend on the vaccination program may reduce the profits in the cattle industry, compared to states that have ceased the program. Some studies assessed the risk of disease transmission from the GYA to outside of designated surveillance areas in Montana, Idaho, and Wyoming.2,6 However, no study has been done on the risk of introducing brucellosis into California and the cost-effectiveness of the vaccination program to better inform policies to continue or cease the vaccination program.