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Travis Feb 5th 2013 10:37 AM

I am posting this to start a conversation that we need to have. It is NOT intended to be combative, argumentative or political. It is simply intended to examine our industry’s issues. We all love raising deer and elk. I don’t think any of us want to be told we can’t. This industry has a lot of potential for breeders trying to succeed. Building quality proven herds takes time, energy and money. The last thing we want is to be forced out of business by a policy that has no science in its basis.

I would like to look at what we call the status quo. Some states have it better than others. Different states have different geography, politics, and culture that impact their regulations. Almost everyone has a battle in their state or in their region.

Someone asked me why we need the American Cervid Alliance (ACA). I said it is a collection of minds that want to work to defend our industry, seek solutions to make it better and raise funds to do so. That can entail reinforcing a principal under fire or seeking scientific evidence to prove our point. Some say let’s just wait until there is a battle and then go fight it…

I started thinking about the status quo and wondering how anyone would think it is okay…. This industry is full of double standards and injustices. I hear people complain about our regulations and others try to downplay it and pretend everything is fine. Well, let’s look at the status quo… Is it all okay or is it full of injustices and double standards? What else are we waiting for?

• Tennessee will not allow the breeding of whitetail deer “due to the fear of spreading CWD” BUT they will allow the importation of wild elk without meeting any testing requirements or monitoring….

• The USDA is so concerned about the spread and testing of CWD that they have suspended any funding and indemnification to continue the process….

• EHD kills thousands of farmed and wild whitetail deer every year and there is no federal funding to stop it…

• A new senate bill in Iowa seeks double fencing with 10’ requirements with $5,000 annual license fees…

• A farm in Iowa had CWD and is being forced to quarantine 700 whitetail deer WITHOUT proper indemnification…

• New York closes its borders to importing cervids from nearly every state in the union… How do their breeders expect to engage in commerce?

• Virginia only allows fallow deer farming, because of the fear of susceptible species such as whitetail deer and elk spreading the disease. Most recently, the Virginia Department of Game sanctioned the importation of wild elk to be released into the wild.

• Fish & Wildlife agencies want 100% CWD testing of the farmed cervids and captive hunted cervids but nationally they test less than 3% of the wild cervids that are harvest for a fee….

• There is no relief for farms that have over a dozen years of CWD free monitoring status… Where is the reward?? What’s the incentive?

• Elk and deer breeders must pay for their own CWD tests if they want to stay in the program. If they leave the program they can’t engage in commerce and sell trophy or breeding animals out of state… Unfunded mandate?

• In Summer 2012 there were over 250 industry comments posted in response to the National CWD rule comment section and few changes were implemented…..

• The long awaited federal rules states mandatory CWD testing for 12 months old instead of 16 months…

• The long awaited federal rules says no testing relief for slaughter animals for farms with high accreditation…

Again, this message is not blaming anyone. It is simply a voice asking for help and to quit kidding ourselves. The American Cervid Alliance is full of people that understand the policy changing process and are looking for support to start working on these issues. We need to work together!

Every industry has issues. The energy industry, the banking industry, healthcare, schools, everything -has to deal with regulations. We must know what is going on. With the trend of populations moving from rural to urban puts our industry at a disadvantage. State legislatures are proportioned by population. The agriculture voice is diminishing. We have to work hard to spread the word of our mission and one or two associations cannot do it alone.

With all these problems persisting as we speak I am thankful 40 men and women from all these different associations are working together. How can anyone oppose it and pretend everything is okay?

Please, visit and consider spreading the word and helping this cause.

Four Seasons Whitetails Feb 5th 2013 11:42 AM

As i write this we are in a meeting in Albany with the Dept of Ag, The head of Dept of Conservation, The heads of our Assoc and our lawyer. The state of Ny not only goes by the new Cwd rules as every other state but they are making us go back 5 years and check every animal on our farms that came out of the state of Pa before we can even get a permit to sell deer in our own state! On top of that they closed us to all but Ohio and Indiana and thats only if those farms have no deer from any state that had Cwd in the wild OR behind fence. On top of that the state of Ny tells us how many deer we can own. I dont have to tell you what that does to a business!

As shawn said in his email about the Usda Ag Census we now have deer listed as livestock.. Well they dont tell a beef or dairy farmer how many animals they can have on their property! Hopefully after today we can make some headway on these issues because there are so many things wrong with these rules!

G O Whitetails Feb 5th 2013 03:48 PM


I think the Dept of Ag is giving the DNR way to much authority in our rule making. They are pushing rules that they can't live by, as Travis said.

I don't understand why a private industry should have to bow down to a government subsidized [money losing] agency. No matter how you figure it, wild deer are pests and moneys losers for states.

If the DNR had to compensate farmers for crop loses, they would find out real fast what deer are worth.

Good look on your run for board of NADEFA.

Gary Olson

Four Seasons Whitetails Feb 6th 2013 02:49 AM


Originally Posted by G O Whitetails

I think the Dept of Ag is giving the DNR way to much authority in our rule making. They are pushing rules that they can't live by, as Travis said.

I don't understand why a private industry should have to bow down to a government subsidized [money losing] agency. No matter how you figure it, wild deer are pests and moneys losers for states.

If the DNR had to compensate farmers for crop loses, they would find out real fast what deer are worth.

Good look on your run for board of NADEFA.

Gary Olson

Thanks Gary, Im not sure how much i can help with any of this mess but if i can learn i guess its a start!

Its crazy how much more you can get done and how much more people seem to listen when you retain a lawyer. Our meeting was positive and there is another date set to meet again. One thing we are trying to get changed is the DEC telling us how many deer we can have on our fams. We asked where,when and who made this crazy rule and not one person in the room had an answer to ANY of the three. Thats Crazy!!!!

Autry Feb 7th 2013 12:42 PM


Is there somewhere on-line that shows the amount of funds that each association has given to the alliance and who the representative is for that association? If not, it might help gain support for the alliance to show how much support you actually have.



Travis Feb 7th 2013 07:42 PM


Thank you for your post. No specific contribution information has been posted online at this time. Monetary strength and strategy isn’t something we believe would be wise to post on a forum or public site as it can be viewed by opposition. The ACA website doesn’t currently have a member only feature to allow that but that is a possibility in the future. The ACA has been communicating regularly on its calls and email group regarding these issues. We are still considering how we will present supporter lists but want to make that decision as a group which would take place on the next call.

We are compiling contribution lists to share with the group on the next call. We have now reached the point where it is evident which associations are truly dedicated to assisting the alliance. Though many associations have contributed, the ACA is looking for support by individuals. A misnomer is that the ACA is attempting to divert funds from state associations to the ACA. The ACA will accept a donation from a state but is looking for individuals to get involved at a grassroots level. This can be an individual that wants to donate a straw of semen or perhaps make a small contribution of their own. There has NEVER been any monetary requirement for a donation. In fact, some breeders have speculated if every breeder out there contributed just a couple dollars per animal on their farm could really add to significant numbers when combined across the nation.

This whole initiative is about working together as a team for a common goal. This alliance is strictly volunteers trying to make positive changes. We hope everyone supports it. Organization of a group this size is challenging but I would like to thank all the people that have really offered to get involved.

Feel free to give me a call if you want to chat. I hope all is well.

Autry Feb 7th 2013 09:34 PM


With Transparency mentioned in the title of this thread, I just assumed that ACA would be willing to show the industry who, from each association, was representing that association at ACA and at what level they were supporting ACA financially.

There are some in the industry that are reluctant to give to ACA not knowing more details. The Coalition has a web-site that has a private forum if you would like to use it to discuss private matters just with the industry. Let me know if I can help.

I appreciate what ACA is trying to do but I believe you will need to be more transparent in order to get the support it will take for you to be successful.

Travis Feb 8th 2013 05:27 AM


Yes, transparency is key. For example, the North American Elk Breeders Association (NAEBA) and EWA is 100% transparent with its finances the last few years. During the annual convention’s membership meeting our treasurer gives P&L sheets, balance sheets, and we go over every expense by a category. That is also true during the board meetings on a quarterly basis. Any voting member of NAEBA can see any expense, salary, revenue piece they want, they can even see what we pay for postage annually. I’d say that is 100% transparent however none of that is available on line or to perspective members. For obvious reasons. Therefore it’s not online but still 100% transparent to its members and they can request at any time.

Please bear in mind the ACA is still starting and getting organized. Again, this is very grassroots. This is not an association with a paid staff. That is by design so every dollar raised can go straight to the defense of the industry, not filtered down and reappropriated for a salary or other cause.

The ACA was created during a firestorm immediately having to contend with the Federal Standards Working Group, IA CWD, MO Moratorium, New York, Penn, and now a devastating IA senate bill. These volunteers are also running their own respective associations in their home states. I would hope everyone would be on board with this mission, however I know not everyone will. We have reached the point that the member associations are seeing who is truly dedicated, because actions speak louder than words.

As you have seen with your experience in the industry, many of the squeakiest wheels aren’t members of ANY association. There will be doubters that will not agree to support the ACA. Some people’s minds will never change and I know my volunteer time is busy helping put out these fires I listed above. I am posting my email below in case anyone reading this sees where the ACA could be improved and wants to get involved to help fix that. I for one welcome any help for people to join these ACA volunteers. Kind of like that old saying, “if you’re not part of the solution, you’re part of the problem.”

Thanks again for your comment, hope all is well.


Travis Feb 19th 2013 07:45 AM

The American Cervid Alliance is proud to announce that $18,750.00 was raised for the ACA at last week’s Midwest Select Auction! A huge thank you goes to Eric Pinkston, Matt Kirchner, & Jerry Campbell for making this possible and all the generous donors and buyers for their support! $10,800 of these funds is earmarked for the Iowa defense.

This is a true demonstration that breeders and industry supporters are willing to come together to defend this industry. All the breeders in this industry must put aside their differences and work together. THANK YOU to everyone for your support of the alliance!

Just a donation of one straw of semen can really make a difference. Please let us know if you are willing to make a donation and we will get it on an auction this spring.

Your donation will deal a critical blow in defending our rights!

Rhonda Brakke Feb 20th 2013 10:18 AM

Since finding CWD in our closed herd for 10 years and CWD monitored ten years, we have destroyed 225 animals at our hunting preserve and found two positives. The Iowa Ag Department has quarantined our hunting preserve land and our breed herd and land for five years. We currently spend $3,000 per week to feed them. Because we had a closed herd and all our animals were raised, we cannot write off the loss, as the animals were not purchased. We currently have 2.5 million invested in this industry.

The only offer made by our state is for us to kill our own animals, test them for CWD, dispose of them according to their test outcome, provide reefer trucks, ALL at our expense AND leave our ground quarantined for five years. Lets not forget removing 2 inches of top soil. NO RESEARCH ALLOWED by our state officials.

I went to the USAHA meeting in Greensboro to see if I could reach the right people in regards to our personal situation. After sharing my story with a group of wildlife agencies, state vets, and USDA officials, I was approached by USDA and was told they (USDA) didn't understand why Iowa would not allow us to move our animals from our breeding facility to our hunting preserve, both places were "contaminated" and it would get the animals off the landscape as well as provide indemnity for our herd.

I was also invited to speak in front of National Assembly of Veterinarians, approximately 150 people. When I finished sharing my story, the Iowa state vet was questioned why we were not allowed to move the animals and why we weren't utilizing the live rectal test, if 70 percent accurate that is just as accurate as universally accepted TB Test.

Prior to the USAHA meeting Charly Seale had contacted Minnesota State Vet and shared concerns that the industry has with the new Standards that were going to be passed. If I had not been there I would not have believed it myself, had it not been for Dr Anderson and Charly Seale, the Standards would have been shoved down our throats. NADeFA missed the boat when they refused to accept Charly as a board member. It shouldn't matter that he is working for the other industry, we all need to be united and working toward the same goal.

Iowa DNR Director shared some information with state legislators and representatives, and the media placed articles all over the state of Iowa that Wisconsin Deer Herd had declined by 40% due to CWD.

Our meetings with legislators and representatives are making a difference. But we forewarned, we were approached by a senator who questioned that since CWD can be transmitted through saliva, urine and feces, then did you get infected through your artificial insemination practices?

I personally accept responsibility for not being more proactive or even active in the industry until our finding of CWD, HOWEVER, I believed that the issues were being handled by those in charge of the largest association for cervids.

The single best thing I have done was attended the USAHA Conference in Greensboro. I was in the meetings and again, if it had not been for Charly and Dr. Anderson, we would all be following the radical new standards put forth by the USDA. There would be no CWD Standards Working Group. And, who knows our fate may still be that we will have to live with them.

If we do not stand united and support the ACA which is a culmination of NADeFA, NAEBA, and EWA then what? I would hope to see a number of people traveling to Washington in April. Make the impact we need in this industry. As you, too, may find yourself in our situation.

I ask you, What are you willing to accept if you are the next positive herd? What is acceptable to ensure that our industry remains viable??? That I believe is how this industry needs to move forward.

If there is anyone who has questions in regard to any details or information in this post, please call me at 641-425-0611.

Rhonda Brakke

ddwhitetails Feb 20th 2013 11:37 AM

Rhonda Brakke,

I can't imagine what you are going through and nor do I hope to ever have too. You are in my thoughts and prayers.........I certainly hope people in the Industry start to listen before it is too late.......and I think we are getting real close to the Too Late scenario.....I hope I am wrong........I will be sending a check to ACA very soon to support their efforts towards fighting the challenges we face!

Wild Rivers Whitetails Feb 20th 2013 04:03 PM

When CWD was first found in a whitetail herd here in Wisconsin it was like doomsday. Things went down hill very fast and people and states reacted quickly without any thought. We really thought they were going to shut us down completely. We came through that mess and we can attest to the many hours spent at our state capital working on rules that would allow us to continue. Back then folks weren't as organized and NADeFA was small and had little to no funding. Heck, I remember when there wasn't enough to pay the executive director so she worked for free for several months until the annual meeting when everyone paid their dues. The point is we are much more organized and politically active now and have come a long way. We get tested every few years with some new twist and with the loss of indemnity payments it is time for another challenge.

If CWD isn't important enough for them to pay for testing or indemnity just how important is it??? Taking of your livelihood with out compensation is illegal and wrong. We are all just one CWD test away from being put out of business if things don't change. It seems there are a bunch of folks working on it and I have confidence we will be heard.

Antlershed Feb 20th 2013 06:48 PM


We are all just one CWD test away from being put out of business if things don't change
Actually we don't even have to have it on our farm, if we so much as buy from anyone that ends up getting CWD our herd is threatened. Been there, makes you think twice about ever buying again. Very scary stuff.

Majestic Whitetails Feb 20th 2013 07:27 PM

Matt is 100% correct. We are a small whitetail farm in Southern Ohio that was caught up in the PA CWD mess because we purchased 2 deer from the farm the original CWD deer supposedly came from. Our Deer mean a lot to us, most are treated like pets. In Nov. we where quarantined and made to even stop selling deer urine. We continued to not agree to put our deer down. After fighting with the state for 2 months, and not willing to kill these 2 deer to have them tested we where issued an order of destruction for these 2 animals in mid Jan. They gave me 72 hours to kill these deer, but somehow 30 days to appeal. I was forced to higher an attorney at this time and thanks to there help the order of destruction was put on hold until DNA results came back. Thank god for us the DNA results worked in our favor. The worst part about going through this was you totally feel like your on your own and you realize how fast your farm and everything you worked for can be taken away from you for no good reason. We had some great friends in PA help us out and we also where lucky enough to find a great agricultural attorney in Ohio who does work in other states. We as a group have to fight this together, it sucks doing it alone.

ddwhitetails Feb 20th 2013 07:33 PM

Joe.....I hope it continues to work out for are right...WE need to fight this together........right now I see a lot of bickering going on within the Industry.....and I see politics being played...both of which there is no room for with the issues we face....I hope things can get resolved and we can focus on the major challenges we face this year!!

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