Thursday, February 13, 2014

On the Road to Bathgate Act 4e: Isaac J Foster's Civic and Public Lives (Part 3)


C.  Ike Foster's State Sanitary Livestock Board Service

Today it is called the North Dakota State Board of Animal Health and it has been merged into the bureaucracy, but back in the day it was independent and called the Sanitary Livestock Board. The Board was formed to control the spread of infectious disease among cattle, pigs, sheep, horses and other domesticated animals. Prior to the Board's establishment, unscrupulous farmers and ranchers from other states were using North Dakota as a dumping ground for diseased stock. Once imported, diseases were passed animal to animal and herd to herd and animal and herd to human. 

Like most regulatory agencies, the Board's major successes and most efficient responses were experienced in its early days, which included Ike's tenure.
The North Dakota Livestock Sanitary Board was created in 1907 as an independent agency.  In 1989, the Livestock Sanitary Board became the North Dakota State Board of Animal Health and in 1995, the Board’s staff became part of the North Dakota Department of Agriculture.  Currently, the Board’s staff makes up the Animal Health Division of the Department.  The staff includes the State Veterinarian, Deputy State Veterinarian, Assistant State Veterinarian, Administrative Assistant, two Office Assistants, and a Livestock Field Investigator.  The Board also has a temporary Avian Influenza Coordinator.
The State Board of Animal Health consists of nine members representing the various sectors of the livestock industry who are appointed by the governor for terms of seven years.  Members may serve up to two terms.  The statutory purpose of the Board is to protect the health of the domestic animals and nontraditional livestock of North Dakota.  The Board may take necessary action to control, suppress, and eradicate any and all contagious and infectious diseases among any of the domestic animals and nontraditional livestock of the state.  Most legal responsibility for animal health lies with the Board.  The State Veterinarian is appointed by the Agriculture Commissioner with the consent of the Board.  The State Veterinarian serves as the executive director of the Board and, therefore, must execute all orders and rules made by the board.
Issac first served out a Board term that began in 1917.  His re-appointments in 1922, 

The Bismarck Tribune, May 5, 1922
and 1927,

The Bismarck Tribune, April 13, 1927

were worthy of mention in The Bismarck Tribune.

An early history of the State Live Stock Sanitary Board recounts the origins of the Board:
Our State Veterinarian at that time, a very efficient and competent man, Dr. L. Van Es, was a teacher and a laboratory worker at State College, and for nine months out of the year it was virtually impossible for him to leave the college.
Early Livestock Sanitary Board History 
He saw the necessity of some sort of an agency whose aim and only object should be control of diseases in our livestock; one which should be divorced from political control as far as possible and not dominated by veterinarians. 
Thus the Live Stock Sanitary Board was created in 1907. being composed of three livestock men and two licensed practicing veterinarians. This Board was empowered to promulgate rules and regulations necessary to protect the livestock industry of our state.
The framers of this law had in mind that it would be well to make the position on the Board unattractive from a monetary standpoint. Thus the pay was on per diem basis and was very nominal. The appropriation for Board members for the next biennial period was $500 - to cover per diem and traveling expenses.
To the wisdom of the fathers of this law, the record of the past quarter century stands as a monument, not duplicated by any other state in the nation.
In the early 1930s, a memorial dedication to the long serving and then recently deceased executive director, Dr. W. F. Crewe, described the founding of the Board:
Crewe Memoriam Text
The legislative wisdom of 1907 provided for the establishment of a livestock Sanitary Board of which members representing livestock interests constitute a majority and of which the minority must be members of the veterinary profession. It prescribed a mode of appointment and tenure of office of the Board membership so as to assure a responsible continuity of policy. It gave the Board power to select its Executive Officer and assistants, to prescribe the rules and regulations necessary to carry the provisions of the law into effect and provided funds for the maintenance of the organization and its efforts.
The memoriam said "Credit is also due to the several Governors who appointed and reappointed Board members on the whole without consideration to mere political expediency and for their good judgment in their selections" -- one member, of course, being I. J. Foster.

The Sanitary Livestock Board met usually three or four times annually in Bismarck. Handwritten meeting minutes are maintained in the SHSND archives for many of the Board's early years, including the following passage from the September 26, 1918 minutes involving Ike and illustrating some of the regulatory responsibilities of the Board.
Livestock Board Minutes 9/29/1918 p. 1
The application of Dr. R. S. Long of Upham for appointment as an assistant state veterinarian was considered.
Moved by Mr. Foster and seconded by Dr. Robinson that Dr. R. S. Long be appointed an agent of the live stock sanitary board to act as assistant state veterinarian. Motion prevailed, all members voting aye.
A letter from the Secretary to the Governor making charges against Dr. E. Mackey an assistant state veterinarian and other correspondence pertaining there too was read and discussed. 
In view of the fact that the board discountenances any political activity on the part of any of its agents while in the state's employ and in consideration of the fact that Dr. Mackey had tendered his resignation as an assistant state veterinarian, it was moved by Mr. Foster, seconded by Mr. Long that Dr. Mackey's resignation be accepted and his commission be rescinded. Motion prevailed all members voting aye
Livestock Board Minutes 9/29/1918 p. 2
Minutes read and approved Feb-5-1919.
Other duties of the Board are reflected in an earlier portion of the same meeting minutes.
The annual report of the board to the Governor was read and discussed. Moved by Mr. Foster, seconded by Mr. Long, that the report be approved and handed to the Governor.
Motion prevailed all members voting aye.
The executive officer presented the subject of regulating the boom on bovine tuberculosis in view of the limited appropriation available.
After discussion it was moved by Mr. Foster, seconded by Mr. Long, that action be deferred until next meeting when a better attendance was secured.
The subject of increased compensation for the services of a stenographer and clerk in this department was discussed.
In view of the fact that the emergency board had transferred ten percent of the fund appropriated for stenographer, namely $180, from the fund for expenses, making same available for the payment for services of stenographer, it was moved by Mr. Foster, seconded by Mr. Long, that the salary of the stenographer be increased from $75.00 to $90.00 per month from Oct 1st 1918. 
Motion prevailed all members voting aye.
Additional meeting notes are displayed at the bottom of this post.

Release of the Board's annual reports to the Governor was an opportunity to communicate with the community at large. For example in 1928, The Bismarck Tribune reported:
The livestock industry in North Dakota has been a prosperous one and the campaign on the eradication of bovine tuberculosis has likewise progressed, it is shown by the annual report of the state livestock sanitary board.
The report, submitted by W. L. Richards, Dickinson, and W. F. Crewe, Bismarck, executive officer and state veterinarian, was sent to the govern of the state following the meeting of the executive committee here this week.
The Bismarck Tribune 27 Oct. 1928
It was approved by I. J. Foster, Bathgate, vice president; Dr. J. W. Robinson, Garrison, secretary; Dr. D. F. Seed, Minot; W. W. Brown, Amenia and Dr. A. F. Schalk, bacteriologist and consulting veterinarian of the state agricultural college.
"The campaign on the eradication of bovine tuberculosis has been carried on with splendid cooperation from the stock growers," the report continued. 
"The increase in the value of beef has correspondingly increased the value of salvage secured. This has reduced the amount of indemnity paid and left an increased amount of the appropriation available for service.  In many instances animals have sold in excess of the appraised value."
The indemnity referred to is the amount paid to producers when animals infected with contagious disease were destroyed. The report urged that improved animal health not only preserved more stock for sale, but also led to farmers and rancher receiving higher prices for their healthy stock. 

The Board proudly announced that "twenty-six counties have been charted as accredited counties" where "infected herds were retested until no reactors were found."

Having largely succeeded in creating a regime for control and eventual elimination of bovine tuberculosis, the Board was turning its focus to other challenges.
"It is recognized that considerable loss is incurred in the cattle raising industry from abortion disease." the report said. "Our research workers have been using their best efforts to secure knowledge of this disease that will result in some fair, practical plan by which the disease can be controlled."

The abortion disease is known as brucellosis, which remains a vexing problem in Montana today, because the tendency of Buffalo to carry brucellosis is cited by ranchers as basis for curbing or harvesting Buffalo that wander beyond certain boundaries of Yellowstone National Park. Brucellosis causes miscarriages and is transmitted among animals through consumption of placenta and aborted fetuses or unpasteurized milk.

Only seven years previous, there was a time when the indemnity fund for cattle had been exhausted because so many cattle had to be condemned for positive tuberculin tests. Seeking additional funds, Dr. W. F. Crewe, executive director of the Board wrote:

This disease [bovine tuberculosis] must also be considered from a public health standpoint. It is estimated that between 25 and 50 percent of tuberculosis of young chldren is of bovine origin, due to the consumption of raw milk from the tuberular cow.
The Bismarck Tribune, May 14, 1921
As to the protection of public health, this is largely taken care of by municipal ordinanaces requiring that all cows furnishing milk for sale in the municipality must be tuberculan tested and found free from disease. As an alternative, some cities provide that the milk may be pasteurized, thus destroying the possibility of infection from this source.  
As the diseased animals are the original source of the infection, it can only be controlled by slaughter of the infected animals or rigid segregation of very valuable animals that may be retained for a certain period for breeding purposes.
A compendium of Livestock Sanitary Board annual reports from 1907 to 1926, including most of the Foster years, is available online here.  It would be quite a resource for someone writing a thesis in public health and/or certain agriculture fields.  

We are planning two additional extended posts on Ike, one on his life as a rancher and farmer, another on his life as a businessman.  As there is additional material that I want to research before writing those posts, it may be some time before I get to them. In the meantime, I have amassed about as much material as I am likely to find on my uncle Lyndon R. Foster, and my great uncle, George S. Foster.  Look for bios of their public lives next. As with Ike, I never met Lyn or George -- so these are my meet and greet as well.

Sanitary Livestock Board meeting minutes, November 22, 1922, p. 1

Sanitary Livestock Board meeting minutes, November 22, 1922, p. 2

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