Minnesota deer farmers fear they’ll be cast as ‘villain’ in talks about beating fatal disease
Mar 7th, 2019 by Keith Worrall 217
Modified Mar 7th, 2019 at 7:37 PM
ST. PAUL — As state lawmakers took up their first conversations about re-writing state law to stop the spread of a deadly disease in deer, cervid farmers said they worried they would become the “villain” in the debates.
Members of the House Agriculture and Food Finance and Policy Division seemed to agree that the state needs to address chronic wasting disease, a fatal neurological disease in deer, moose, caribou and elk. But they split on how best to do that.
More than 30 cases of the disease have been confirmed in wild deer in Minnesota. And to stave off additional cases, Democratic-Farmer-Labor lawmakers proposed setting a moratorium on new deer farms that can open in Minnesota and offering buyouts for existing ones. They also proposed requiring cervid farmers to euthanize their herds if a deer was found to have CWD.
Bill supporters, including hunting and wildlife advocates, said the proposals were key to limiting the disease’s spread to wild deer populations. Cervid farmers and critics of government regulation opposed the bills and said they would unfairly penalize farmers and could tank the industry.
“Nobody is happy with the fact that we have to deal with this disease,” Rep. Jamie Becker-Finn, DFL-Roseville, said. Becker-Finn carried the set of proposals. “It doesn’t feel fair to anyone, but it’s the reality that we’re in.”