Andrew M. Cuomo, Governor | Richard A. Ball, Commissioner
Jessica A. Chittenden

May 08, 2008

Commissioner Recognizes 10 Years of Cattle Health Program

Improved Herd Health, Productivity & Profitability Prove Success for Program

New York State Agriculture Commissioner Patrick Hooker today recognized ten years of healthier cattle in New York State due to the New York State Cattle Health Assurance Program (NYSCHAP). As a voluntary disease prevention program, NYSCHAP has been instrumental in safeguarding New Yorkís cattle population.

"NYSCHAP has been effective in increasing herd health, productivity and profitability on New York farms for ten years now," the Commissioner said, "all while assuring food safety, public health, and consumer confidence in beef and dairy products. This is an outstanding program that proves voluntary, incentive-based initiatives work at the State level."

The announcement was made in Stanley (Ontario County) at Lawnhurst Farm, owned by Don Jensen, the first farmer to enroll in NYSCHAP on January 22, 1998. Jensen had heard about the program from his private veterinarian at the time, Dr. Tom Smithling, and decided to enroll after expanding his herd and becoming concerned about an increasing prevalence of clinical Johneís disease in his herd.

Ten years later, Johneís disease is non-issue in Jensenís herd. The framework and daily best management practices provided through NYSCHAP enabled Jensen to prevent the spread of the disease to the next generation of cows in the herd. The program also encouraged an increased awareness of biosecurity and animal health, making Jensenís herd healthier and in turn, more productive and profitable.

New York State Veterinarian John P. Huntley, DVM said, "When NYSCHAP was created, it took a different approach than traditional disease prevention programs at the time, which focused solely on testing and surveillance. Recognizing management was a critical component to disease prevention, NYSCHAP focused on developing specific herd health plans that have the overall goals and resources of the farm in mind. Attacking disease from a management perspective has proven to be extremely successful in the battle against Johneís disease, Bovine Leukosis, and others."

The New York State Cattle Health Assurance Program is an integrated disease prevention program that utilizes a team of advisors to develop a farm-specific herd health plan. All participating farms are given a walk-through risk assessment. Strategies for improvement are discussed with the farmer and they become the basis for the herd plan. All participating farms must enroll in the core module which addresses basic biosecurity and best management practices that cross all management areas and disease issues, but they can also enroll in specific modules that address different diseases or farm issues, including mastitis, herd expansion, beef quality, cattle welfare certification, and more recently, transition cow challenges and hoof health.

Financial incentives have also been added to the program since 1998, including professional vouchers for veterinarians, testing discounts for bulk tank cultures for mastitis, as well as $650,000 in grants for Johneís disease equipment. The program also now certifies private veterinarians to implement NYSCHAP and develop herd health plans. Currently, there are 19 NYSCHAP certified private veterinarians. To accompany this effort, an elective course at the New York State College of Veterinary Medicine was developed to train veterinary students in biosecurity and herd health planning.

NYSCHAP is a free and voluntary program, sponsored by the New York State Department of Agriculture and Markets. Since 1998, more than 1,200 farms have enrolled in the various modules of NYSCHAP. At the moment, there are 822 dairy farms, 64 beef operations, and 22 heifer raising facilities active in the program, representing 470,000 cows in New York.

For more information on NYSCHAP, please visit

2008 Press Releases