Filemon Vela

Representing the 34 District of Texas

PRESS RELEASE: Vela Announces $3.7 million in Additional Funding Toward Cattle Fever Tick Eradication

May 18, 2017
Press Release

PRESS RELEASE: Vela Announces $3.7 million in Additional Funding Toward Cattle Fever Tick Eradication

U.S. Representative Filemon Vela, D-Brownsville, announced today that the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) has designated an additional $3.7 million to fight the spread of the cattle fever tick. The funding will be added to the existing budget of $8.5 million, creating a total of $12.2 million to assist USDA's efforts to eradicate the fever tick in Texas.  

"Many cattle operations in South Texas have been completely devastated by the reemergence of the cattle fever tick," said Congressman Vela. "I'm certain the USDA funding will further the research needed to completely eradicate this pest and keep the South Texas cattle industry afloat. I commend Governor Greg Abbott for securing funding and taking the needed steps to protect Texas cattle producers."

The cattle fever tick carries parasites that cause bovine babesiosis, a severe blood-borne disease found in cattle populations. While fever tick was eradicated from the United States in 1943, it was not eliminated in Mexico; and recently, there has been a reemergence of this invasive species in South Texas. Without necessary attention to the destructive cattle fever tick, the outbreak in Texas could spread throughout the United States, leading to a potential economic impact exceeding $1.2 Billion. Many organizations such as the Texas Animal Health Commission (TAHC), Texas and Southwestern Cattle Raisers Association (TSCRA), and the Texas Farm Bureau have played a large role in providing consistent updates on the spread of the tick. 

“The disease the cattle fever tick carries has the capability to cripple the Texas cattle industry if it’s not contained, and Texas ranchers are facing an infestation of fever ticks not seen in decades,” Texas Farm Bureau President Russell Boening said. “Fighting fever ticks is an ongoing effort and these additional funds are another step in a long journey to push the pest out of the U.S. We appreciate Congressman Filemon Vela for his steadfast work to help contain this threat before it becomes a statewide epidemic. We also appreciate the efforts of Congressman Henry Cuellar, Congressman Vicente Gonzalez and Gov. Greg Abbott.”

Throughout the fight against the fever tick infestation, Congressman Vela has worked with colleagues to bring awareness to the impact on the cattle industry. His efforts include hosting former USDA Undersecretary Edward Avalos in South Texas, where they visited with ranchers and producers affected, or at risk of being affected, by the pest. Congressman Vela also convened a Fever Tick Forum in collaboration with the Congressional Invasive Species Caucus and the Chairman and Ranking Member of the Agriculture Subcommittee on Livestock and Foreign Agriculture.  This event brought together representatives from the cattle industry, Texas Animal Health Commission, and USDA to discuss setbacks in the cattle industry as a result of the fever tick, and necessary steps going forward to eradicate the pest. Speakers at the forum included Vice President and General Manager of Livestock and Ranching Operations for King Ranch Dave Delaney and General Manager of the El Sauz Ranch and TSCRA Director Freddy Nieto.

“On behalf of all cattlemen and cattlewomen in Texas, especially those in South Texas to whom cattle fever tick infestation is a constant threat, we would like to express our appreciation for this additional funding at the request of Governor Abbott. His leadership and recognition of the potential devastation the spread of this tick could cause within our Texas cattle industry is greatly appreciated," said Dave Delaney. "We would also like to recognize all the efforts Congressman Vela has tirelessly and unwaveringly put forth on a national level to help in this fight. His leadership and support of these efforts is also extremely important and should not go unnoticed.”

Freddy Nieto added, “the Texas and Southwestern Cattle Raisers Association thanks Congressman Filemon Vela for his continued support. I can personally attest to the devastating effects cattle fever ticks have on the cattle industry and appreciate the continued engagement of our legislators in Washington D.C. on this important issue.”