Sunday, September 21, 2003

North American Elk Breeders Association
1708 North Prairie View Road

Platte City MO 64079
Phone: 318-871-8256 Fax: 318-871-5065
www.naelk.org

PRESS RELEASE

For Immediate Release
Please contact:Trent Loos
Phone: 970-481-1389

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MAlert to All Business Owners Across the Country.
Could your Business Be Next?

September 19 2003

(Platte City, MO) The North American Elk Breeders Association wants to issue an alert to all business owners across the country. A federal judge’s decision this week to uphold Montana Initiative-143 will prohibit the issuance of new game farm licenses, prohibit the transfer of existing licenses and prohibit the shooting of game-farm animals for a fee.

The issue of greatest concern in regard to this ruling may be the judge’s comments. He stated that farm owners have no "absolute or unfettered right to operate an alternative livestock ranch as they see fit.” Also of great concern are comments from, Sarah McMillan, an attorney representing the Wildlife Federation who said "There is no fundamental right to run your business as you see fit. A game-farm license is a privilege, not a vested right. It can be taken away or modified." The farmers they are speaking of are all licensed by the state. These farmers are producing livestock for consumptive use on private property. This should serve as a warning to all farmers and ranchers that your investment could be in jeopardy because of someone else’s agenda.

Kim Kafka, a petitioner in the lawsuit from Havre, MT, says, “The public was sold a bill of goods that doesn’t exist”. The ruling has a strong negative effect on ranchers like Kafka who have diversified in order to increase the profitability of their ranches. He added elk farming to his crop and beef operation several years ago.

Kafka added, “In Montana we hear so much talk about saving the Montana heritage, yet when I drive down roads that used to have a farm on every corner, those places are gone. What about the heritage of agriculture? Montana has worldwide appeal because of its distinct forage production that is so well suited for grazing animals. This ruling thumbs its nose at the economically sustaining portion of our heritage.”

Voters in Montana were given misleading information regarding the unfounded fears about Chronic Wasting Disease (CWD) on deer and elk farms. This misrepresentation of facts played a huge role in garnering support for I-143. In fact, the domestic elk and deer industry has tested 35,000 animals for CWD in the last two years. Approximately 100 of those tested positive. That means that only 0.28% of all farmed deer and elk tested were infected with CWD.

Elk and deer in controlled farming operations are monitored on a regular basis for the presence of disease. The ability to manage these animals allows veterinary professionals to ensure the health and immune status of deer and elk on these farms to a much greater extent than animals can be managed in the wild.

Montana Initiative-143, the judge’s ruling and his comments are a direct attack on personal property rights. We hope that this will serve as a wake up call for the entire animal agriculture industry. We must relentlessly present the facts in order to ensure that the decisions of voters and consumers are based on truth rather than the agenda of special interest group.

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