After drawing the cattle industry’s ire, Agriculture Commissioner Sid Miller temporarily reversed his ban on spraying cattle in a confined space with an insecticide that prevents a deadly infection from fever ticks.
“After working with representatives from the Texas cattle industry and our state and federal partners at Texas Animal Health Commission, (U.S. Department of Agriculture) and (Environmental Protection Agency), we have agreed to a short term compromise that will ensure ranchers have the option of exempting some cattle from the spray boxes and move us toward a more permanent solution for providing ventilation in the boxes as required by the federally-approved Co-Ral label,” Miller said in a statement Thursday.
Miller allowed the use of so-called “fever tick spray boxes” to resume Thursday through Sept. 24, “while I continue discussions…on a long term solution.”
“I appreciate the quick and professional response from (the U.S. Department of Agriculture) Under Secretary (Greg) Ibach and I look forward to working with him to find a more permanent solution to this issue,” Miller said. “I also appreciate the patience and input of our friends in the Texas cattle industry. I sincerely hope that together we can find that solution that will protect Texas cattle, serve the public interest and strengthen the position of the Texas beef industry as a world leader.“
Miller explained in a July 30 news release that ranchers told him their cattle were dying from “spray boxes,” so he traveled to South Texas to “check it out.”
“From my personal observation, the insecticide was being used in violation of the label so I shut them down,” Miller said last month. “I also gave the state and federal authorities lawful alternatives for applying this insecticide, but they refused to implement those alternatives.”
After Miller shut down operations, Robert McKnight Jr., president of the Texas and Southwestern Cattle Raisers Association disputed Miller’s claim in a statement, calling Miller’s decision “rash” and said it could endanger the lies of cattle and ranchers’ business operations.
Miller’s general election opponent, Democrat Kim Olson, said the commissioner “took it upon himself to step into a situation and perform a duty best left to professionals.”