After a personal inspection at a ranch in South Texas Monday, Texas Agriculture Commissioner Sid Miller shut down a Cattle Fever Tick spray box operation and ordered the remaining 15 spray boxes also shut down. These spray boxes apply a high-powered insecticide called Co-Ral, at seven times the recommended agriculture rate, to combat ticks that may infect livestock with deadly Texas cattle fever.
Commissioner Miller cited lack of ventilation in the confined spray box which violates federally-approved label requirements for the insecticide. Miller also noted that licensed applicators were not present at the inspection, as required by state and federal law.
“Ranchers had complained to me about their cattle dying from these spray boxes, so I went to South Texas to check it out,” said Miller. “From my personal observation, the insecticide was being used in violation of the label so I shut them down. I also gave the state and federal authorities lawful alternatives for applying this insecticide, but they refused to implement those alternatives.”
The Cattle-Fever Tick Eradication Program is managed by the USDA in conjunction with the Texas Animal Health Commission. As with all pesticides, the use of Co-Ral is regulated by the Texas Department of Agriculture. The goal of the program is to limit the Cattle Fever Tick to the 8-county quarantine zone along the border with Mexico, and ultimately eradicate the pest from Texas entirely.
The scientific name for Texas cattle fever is bovine babesiosis, a name related to organisms that infect the cattle’s red blood cells. The tick’s destruction of the red blood cells results in cattle anemia, fever, and death. The Cattle Fever Tick is a major threat to not only the Texas cattle industry, but also exotic game and other animals.
“Everybody agrees we need to fight Cattle Fever Ticks with everything we’ve got,” said Miller. “But here in Texas we’re going to do it according to the law in a way that doesn’t kill cattle. The goal of the program is to protect cattle not kill them. Our Texas ranchers had a concern about it and I listened and took action. I will ensure that other state and federal agencies do what they need to do to address this problem.”
An eighth-generation Texas farmer and rancher, Sid Miller is the 12th Commissioner of the Texas Department of Agriculture (TDA). A nine-time world champion rodeo cowboy, he has devoted his life to promoting Texas agriculture, rural communities, and the western heritage of Texas.