I’m writing this because in the last few weeks, I’ve become very concerned by the leadership, or lack thereof, shown by our governor.
In the 1970s, my dad and I had a herd of between 400-500 head of mother cows. We consistently sold steer calves weighing over 500 pounds and heifer calves somewhat smaller. I artificially inseminated the top end of our cows, and kept the heifer calves born to them as replacements. One spring, we sold a few dry cows that we had, and the sky fell. Understand, our calf crop for all the years we had cattle was always over 92 percent pregnant cows. A few days after selling the drys, Dad received a call stating that we had a bangs or brucellosis suspect in those drys, and the state wanted to blood test our herd. Needless to say, we didn’t know what to do, so we agreed. Looking back, it was a huge mistake. We rounded up our cows, and drew blood on them every 30 days for the next 18 to 24 months. Our herd was quarantined, so we couldn’t market our cattle or anything. Two years after finding what the state called suspects, but never finding one actual cow with bangs, we were broke. Dad lost the cow herd, and the ranch, and died of a broken heart in 1986.
In the early 2000s, my mom received a letter from the state apologizing for making us go through all those tests, and stating that they were positive now that we didn’t have brucellosis. The cows had a titer reaction because some of those that we had bought had been vaccinated too late as calves. Unfortunately, my parents had already lost everything.
Now, the state reimburses you for the loss of your herd. However, in those days, my dad had to sell everything as hamburger cows. Thousand dollar cows brought him on average $120.
I say all of this because our governor is letting buffalo come into our county. As a rancher, I’d be petrified of these bison getting with my cows. Our whole economy revolves around farming and livestock, and he is putting our cattlemen at risk of losing everything. It seems to me that is a decision that he has made because he personally has no risk. If he had cattle next to these bison, I think he’d feel differently. I don’t care how many times these bison have been tested. I just don’t feel the reward is worth the risk.
I’d also like the governor to explain why all of a sudden one of the bison on Ted Turner’s ranch tested positive for brucellosis, and we didn’t hear anything about it. Did that buffalo come from Yellowstone?
I just don’t see any reason to jeopardize the livestock industry in Blaine County. Remember these farmers and ranchers are our life blood.
(Donald W. Richman is a Republican candidate for the state Senate from District 17, which includes northern Blaine and Hill counties.)