NADeFA Stands by Ag Secretary Vilsack Decision on Farm-Raised Deer

CANTON, Ohio — The U.S. Department of Agriculture has rejected six U.S. Congressmen who were requesting a ban on the interstate commerce of farm-raised cervids, including whitetail deer, elk, mule deer, red deer, sika deer and moose, and the North American Deer Farmers Association (NADeFA) stands by the decision.

Last month, the six Congressional representatives — all of whom are members of an animal rights caucus and from non-deer farming states — wrote U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack to express concerns that farm-raised cervids “pose a serious threat to livestock and native wildlife and potentially endanger human health.” The representatives were Rep Jim Moran (D-VA), Sam Farr (D-CA), Rosa DeLauro (D-CT), Raul Grijalva (D-AR), James Langevin (D-RI), and Steve Cohen (D-TN).

In his response, U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack wrote: “I share your concerns about the need to control the spread of chronic wasting disease (CWD), bovine tuberculosis (TB) and similar threats. However, based on our ability to effectively monitor for these diseases in captive cervids, as well as the regulatory requirements we have set for their interstate movement, we do not believe it is necessary to ban the shipping of these animals across State lines. This is consistent with our successful approaches to addressing a number of other livestock diseases in the United States.”

“These representatives are either terribly misinformed about the deer farming industry or they are pushing an anti-agriculture, anti-commerce agenda. We commend Secretary of Agriculture Vilsack’s decision to defend agriculture, deer farming and our constitutionally protected rights regarding commerce,” says Shawn Schafer, executive director for NADeFA.

“It’s also outrageous that these U.S. Congressmen would intentionally portray farm-raised cervids as a so-called ‘serious threat’ to humans, livestock and other wildlife,” adds Schafer. “There is absolutely no scientific data to support any part of that statement. It’s obvious and blatant fear-mongering, and the American people deserve better from their elected leaders.”

Schafer explains that science has already disproved the Congressmen’s inflammatory statements. For example, researchers at the University of Wisconsin recently studied the effects of chonic wasting disease (CWD) on free-ranging deer and found no evidence that CWD was substantially increasing mortality rates. In addition, no cases of human prion disease have been associated with CWD. In fact, current research from Colorado confirms that the incidence of Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease in humans living within seven CWD endemic counties has not significantly increased between from 1970 to 2001 and no case of a human prion disease resulting from CWD exposure has ever been documented.

The North American Deer Farmers Association was founded in 1983 and is dedicated to the promotion of deer farming and ranching as an agricultural pursuit and serves its members through its educational programs and publications and by providing leadership in setting and maintaining quality standards. NADeFA represents the deer farming industry at all levels of government, and works closely with livestock producers and other organizations to promote ethical standards of conduct and husbandry in deer farming and to actively market standards for deer and deer products. NADeFA representatives are also available to media for expert testimony and information about deer farming and animal health issues, such as Chronic Wasting Disease, EHD and other topics.

For more information about NADeFA and membership, call 330.454.3944 or visit www.NADeFA.org.

Since 1983, the North American Deer Farmers Association (NADeFA) has worked to establish and promote deer farming as an agricultural pursuit and to facilitate education on breeding, handling and deer farm management. For more information on the North American Deer Farmers Association, call 330.454.3944 or visit www.NADeFA.org