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Associated Press PIERRE, S.D. (AP) - Governors from six states in the region have been invited to a conference in South Dakota on cattle diseases.

Gov. Bill Janklow has invited the governors of Iowa, Minnesota, Montana, Nebraska, North Dakota and Wyoming to take part in the Governor's Conference on Foot and Mouth and Mad Cow Disease. It will be at the convention center in Sioux Falls on May 17.

The conference aims to educate farmers, ranchers and the public about animal diseases sweeping the globe, said Bob Mercer, spokesman for Janklow.

Several experts are scheduled to speak, including Alfonso Torres, deputy administrator of the U.S. Department of Agriculture's Agriculture Veterinary Service and an expert on foot-and-mouth disease. Also on tap are Linda Detweiler, a USDA expert in mad cow disease, and Elizabeth Williams, an expert in chronic wasting disease from the University of Wyoming.

The presenters are "some of the top people in our nation and the world" in their areas of expertise, Janklow said.

The governor urged the public to attend.

"I hope every person, whether or not they're from South Dakota, who has an interest will attend," he said. "This not only has the potential to affect the livestock industry but much of our economy, from Main Street businesses to tourism."

Meanwhile, U.S. Sen. Tim Johnson, D-S.D., urged the USDA on Thursday to reconsider any plans to ease its ban on raw meat and livestock imported to the United States from the European Union.

Restrictions would be lifted first for countries showing no signs of the disease. But meat and livestock from those nations may have originated in other countries suffering outbreaks of the disease, he said.

"In an increasingly global economy, there is some vulnerability out there, and we need to defend ourselves against it …," Johnson said.

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