Cattle Ranchers Fear Decimation: Border Policy Brings Contagious Virus Threat

Ranchers are worried about the potential spread of foot and mouth disease (FMD), a highly contagious virus that affects livestock such as cows and sheep, across the southern border due to the Biden administration’s border policies leading to a surge in illegal immigration, Fox News reports.

Todd Wilkinson, a South Dakota rancher and the president-elect of the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association, stated, “Our border is just so porous, if that disease comes in, it’s just going to devastate the industry. And frankly, I don’t know how it’s been kept out to this point.”

FMD is present in 77% of the global livestock population, primarily in Africa, Asia, the Middle East, and South America.

The U.S. has been free of FMD, which is not transmissible to humans, since 1929.

Customs and Border Protection estimates an average of 6,858 migrant encounters at the border daily, and Wilkinson predicted this is where FMD could enter the US.

“It can come in, certainly, with animals. It can also come in on a meat product. So there’s a number of ways it’s going to come in. But the most likely way it’s going to come in is some manure on the bottom of somebody’s boot,” Wilkinson added.

In the event of an FMD outbreak in the U.S., there would be a mandatory 72-hour pause on all cattle movement, which could last up to a week, according to Wilkinson.

The rancher warned, “Just think of that — no cattle moving anywhere in the country, or going in and out of the country, for up to a week… you’re going to see the beef industry just decimated.”

Alisa Ogden and Loren Patterson, New Mexico ranchers, share Wilkinson’s fears and believe it is only a matter of time before the virus reaches the U.S.

Patterson warned, “I think it’s a matter of time.”

More than 60% of all livestock entering the US cross the southern border at Santa Teresa/San Jeronimo in New Mexico, which could quickly spread the virus to every state, according to the New Mexico Partnership.

Ogden expressed concern about other diseases and health issues, many of which are “unknown.”

She said, “It’s a huge unknown, you never know what’s going to be coming… It’s the unknown, and not being able to monitor what you’re producing, food for others.”

According to Wilkinson, it is crucial to have measures in place for monitoring the spread of FMD in the event of its entry into the U.S. to prevent economic havoc.

He said, “That’s why we’re so concerned about getting traceability in place, so that we can track those issues, and we can reduce the size of the quarantine very quickly.”