Saturday, December 27, 2003

Investigators Trace Diseased Cow to Canada

WASHINGTON - The Holstein infected with mad cow disease in Washington state was imported into the United States from Canada about two years ago, federal investigators tentatively concluded Saturday.

Dr. Ron DeHaven, chief veterinarian for the Agriculture Department, said Canadian officials have provided records that indicate the animal was one of a herd of 74 cattle shipped from Alberta, Canada, into this country in August 2001 at Eastport, Idaho.

"These animals were all dairy cattle and entered the U.S. only about two or two-and-a-half years ago, so most of them are still likely alive," DeHaven said.

DeHaven emphasized that the sick cow's presence in that herd does not mean all 74 animals are infected. Investigators are tracking down where the other 73 animals are.

"We feel confident that we are going to be able to determine the whereabouts of most, if not all, of these animals within several days," DeHaven said.

Confirming that the sick cow came from Canada will be crucial for the United States to continue exporting beef because it could retain its disease-free status. The country has lost 90 percent of its exports because of the case, the National Cattlemen's Beef Association estimates, because more than two dozen foreign nations have banned the import of U.S. beef despite claims by U.S. officials that the meat is safe.

Canada found a case of mad cow disease in Alberta in May. The discovery decimated the country's beef industry as its importers cut off trade.

Dr. Brian Evans, chief veterinary officer of the Canadian Food Inspection Agency, said it's premature to draw any conclusions about the cow's origins because Canadian and U.S. records that ostensibly refer to the same cow don't agree on key details.

Based on the Canadian records, the diseased cow was 6 1/2-years-old _ older than U.S. officials had thought, DeHaven said. U.S. papers on the cow said she was 4- or 4 1/2-years-old.

The age is significant because the United States and Canada have banned feed that could be the source of infection since 1997.

Farmers used to feed their animals meal containing tissue from other cattle and livestock to fatten them. Countries have banned such feed because infected tissue _ such as the brain and spinal cord _ could be in the meal...

Brazil and Argentina Expect Rising Beef Sales

The emergence of a case of mad cow disease in the United States this week has created an unparalleled opportunity for Brazil and Argentina, two of the main competitors of the United States in the booming international beef export market, to capture new customers, government and industry officials here say.

Cattle in both countries graze on grass; they are not fed ground-up animal parts that have been used as feed elsewhere, a practice believed to transmit mad cow disease.

Brazil already has the most beef cattle in the world, more than 170 million head, and now anticipates a big rise in exports in 2004. In the first 10 months of this year, Brazil earned $3.3 billion from exports of meat, more than a third of it from beef.

"This is a dramatic situation for the United States, and it is a shame that this has happened," said Brazil's minister of agriculture, Roberto Rodrigues. But, he added, "this can open up markets for Brazil."

Neighboring Argentina, with herds numbering more than 50 million cattle and a long tradition of exports to Europe, is expecting similar benefits, as to a lesser extent is Uruguay, with 10.5 million head. Argentina now earns nearly $1 billion a year from beef sales abroad.

Marcus Vinicius Pratini de Moraes, president of the Brazilia Association of Meat Exporters, estimated that beef exports, which have nearly tripled since 2000, could surge as much as 20 percent in volume and value next year.

"Meat prices to producers, which have fallen 20 to 30 percent because of excess supply, should improve quite a bit next year" because of America's absence from key markets, Mr. de Moraes predicted...

Mad cow case tough to crack Federal agriculture officials said Friday that there's a chance that they may never know where the Holstein infected with mad cow disease contracted its illness - something experts said could shake the confidence of beef eaters. Efforts to find and recall 10,400 pounds of potentially infected beef also are going slowly, U.S. Department of Agriculture officials acknowledged. So far none of the meat from the animals slaughtered along with the infected cow Dec. 9 at the Washington slaughterhouse has been located, officials said. USDA officials received unconfirmed reports that some of the meat - ground beef and beef patties - may have reached stores, although probably only in the Northwest, agency spokesman Dan Puzo said...Mad cow could slow bulls prolonged investigation into the origin of the mad cow disease found in one cow in Washington state could eat away at market and consumer confidence, making cattle prices continue their free fall, an industry analyst said Friday. The U.S. Department of Agriculture announcement Friday that its investigation into the mad cow case in Washington could take "weeks or months" was "disconcerting," said Rich Nelson, director of research at Allendale Inc., an agricultural research firm in McHenry, Ill. "The market doesn't like uncertainty," Nelson said. "My best guess is that cash cattle prices will reach down to between $70 and $74 (per hundred pounds)." Cow Parts Used in Candles, Soaps Recalled Cow parts - including hooves, bones, fat and innards - are used in everything from hand cream and antifreeze, to poultry feed and gardening soils. In the next tangled phase of the mad cow investigation, federal inspectors are concentrating on byproducts from the tainted Holstein, which might have gone to a half-dozen distributors in the Northwest, said Dalton Hobbs, spokesman for the Oregon Department of Agriculture. Now, it's the secondary parts - the raw material for soil, soaps, candles - that are being recalled...State set to track cattle from Wash Colorado is prepared to act immediately if federal authorities learn that mad cow disease has spread beyond a single dairy cow in Washington state. Agriculture Commissioner Don Ament said Friday that the state is working "full blast" to see how many cattle from Washington came into Colorado and where they went. "In the event something would show up and we need to trace it out, we intend to be ready," Ament said. "We'll have a spreadsheet on where every Washington-state animal has gone." State Veterinarian Wayne Cunningham said Colorado currently is checking into records covering the past two years and is prepared to go back even further if necessary...Risky tissue getting into beef supply, studies show Cattle tissues known to carry the infectious agents behind mad cow disease are making it into the nation's meat supply despite industry and government claims to the contrary. Americans are consuming the tissues in a variety of processed meats, including fast-food hamburgers, taco meat and hot dogs, according to food and health activists who point to several government and academic studies on the matter. Meat industry officials say the high-risk materials - namely the brain and spinal cord - are routinely removed from animals, leaving the rest of the meat safe for consumption. But a 2002 survey by the U.S. Department of Agriculture found "unacceptable" central nervous system residue, including spinal cord tissue, in 35 percent of the meat that ends up in items such as hot dogs, pizza toppings and hamburger...t doesn't like uncertainty," Nelson said. "My best guess is that cash cattle prices will reach down to between $70 and $74 (per hundred pounds)."...2 calves of mad-cow mother quarantined in Wash. state U.S. agriculture officials said Friday that they have quarantined the offspring of a slaughtered Holstein cow that tested positive for mad-cow disease. The action came amid an intensifying search for the stricken cow's origins. The quarantine, which includes herds at two Washington farms, was imposed even though officials said transmission of the disease from mother to calf is considered unlikely. One of two calves is at the same dairy near Mabton, Wash., that was the final home of the diseased Holstein cow, said Dr. Ronald DeHaven, the Agriculture Department's chief veterinarian. The other calf is at a bull calf feeding operation in Sunnyside, Wash., DeHaven said...Dean Urges Gov't. Aid for Beef Industry The former governor, whose state has a large dairy cow population, said the Bush administration failed to aggressively set up a tracking system that would allow the government to quickly track the origins of the sick cow, quarantine other animals it came in contact with and assure the marketplace the rest of the meat supply is safe. "What we need in this country is instant traceability," he said. Dean said such a system should have been set up quickly after the mad cow scare that devastated the British beef industry in the mid- to late-1990s. The Bush administration was still devising its plan when the sick cow was slaughtered Dec. 9, and on Friday the government still hadn't determine the infected animal's origins. "This just shows the complete lack of foresight by the Bush administration once again," Dean said. "This is something that easily could be predicted and was predicted." Dean said as a result the beef industry will suffer enormously. Officials said Friday 90 percent of the foreign markets for American beef have been closed off because of the announcement. Asked if he supported a federal economic aid package for the industry, Dean said: "The answer is, yes, of course I do. The question is how much? And we don't know how much yet."...Advanced Meat Recovery machine under scrutiny A slaughterhouse machine that blasts the last bits of flesh off cattle carcasses already relieved of their more recognizable cuts of beef is coming under increased scrutiny as the discovery of mad cow disease in Washington raises questions about the safety of the nation's food supply. The machinery, known as Advanced Meat Recovery, sometimes also strips off spinal cord tissue, which can slip into the food supply unknown to the consumer. A cow's central nervous system, including the brain and spinal cord, are the most likely to contain the misshapen proteins that most scientists believe cause mad cow disease. Those pulpy pieces of tissue fill out any number of processed foods, including hamburgers, hot dogs, sausage and pizza toppings. They're also reduced down to add flavoring to beef bouillon and stock...Mad Cow Issue Hits U.S. Beef Exports Just days after discovering the nation's first case of mad cow disease, the United States has lost nearly all of its beef exports as more than a dozen countries stopped buying American beef as insurance against potential infection. Gregg Doud, an economist for the Denver-based National Cattlemen's Beef Association, said Friday that the United States, at today's market level, stands to lose at least $6 billion a year in exports and falling domestic prices because of the sick cow. "We've lost roughly 90 percent of our export market just in the last three days," Doud said...FDA blasted over past enforcement of feed ban Long before mad cow disease appeared in Washington, the federal government slammed the Food and Drug Administration for failing to adequately enforce feed regulations, a key piece of the nation's firewall against the disease. On Wednesday, the FDA tried to reassure the public by saying it has "vigorously enforced" a 1997 law that bans the use of meat and bone meal from dead ruminants (cows, sheep and goats) in feed for live ruminants. The agency said more than 99 percent of feed operators are now complying with the law. But in January 2002, the General Accounting Office -- Congress' investigative arm -- criticized the FDA for failing to adequately enforce the feed ban. It said the agency had failed to issue warning letters to violators and inspection records were incomplete, inconsistent, inaccurate and untimely. The FDA's records, investigators said, were "so severely flawed" that they shouldn't be used to assess compliance. "FDA has not placed a priority on oversight of the feed ban," the report said...Mad cow disease likely to be costly to U.S. beef industry Though officials haven't yet estimated the financial fallout from the first U.S. case of mad cow disease, the Bush administration told Congress in 2001 that the beef industry could lose $15 billion. Food safety officials had earlier projected that as many as 300,000 cows could be destroyed if the disease spread like it did in Britain, a prospect diminished by safeguards implemented in response to the British experience with bovine spongiform encephalopathy, or BSE. William D. Hueston, a former Agriculture Department official who directs the Center for Animal Health and Food Safety at the University of Minnesota, said Friday he wouldn't be surprised if up to another two dozen infected cows are found in the United States...Fred Meyer recalls beef The possibility of mad cow disease in the U.S. beef supply struck home in Utah Friday afternoon when Fred Meyer stores asked customers to return recalled ground beef as a precaution. The product had been sold in four western states, including Utah. Fred Meyer officials announced Friday afternoon in a press release, "In response to a voluntary recall by Vern's Moses Lake Meats of raw beef that may have been exposed to bovine spongiform encephalopathy (BSE or popularly labeled the "mad cow" disease,) Fred Meyer is asking customers of 75 stores in Oregon, southern Washington, Idaho and Utah to return the following product for full refunds. "The targeted product is Interstate Meat, pre-packaged fresh ground beef patties with approximately one pound of 85 percent lean (15 percent fat) ground beef and a sell-by date of Dec. 25, 2003." Although only eight cases, containing a total of 96 packages of ground beef patties, were subject to this recall, Fred Meyer chose to take a broader recall as a precautionary measure...Mad Cow scare forces auction barn to cancel sale The discovery of the first U.S. case of Mad Cow disease on a farm in Washington state has forced at least one eastern Iowa auction house to cancel their sale of beef cattle. "We don't want to cancel the sale, but it doesn't do any good to have the producers come if there are not a sufficient number of buyers," said Randy Hess, manager of Dyersville Sales Co. "The buyers don't know what to bid for cattle." Some producers, such as Robert Bradley, said he has no idea when he will be able to sell his cattle, or how much they'll bring. "My buyer was here this morning before daylight," Bradley said Wednesday. "He wouldn't even put in a bid."...Expect a price drop in beef, but it may take a few weeks Supermarket beef prices, which have been at record highs, are likely to fall as result of the first case of mad cow disease in the United States. But it could take a few weeks before consumers see those lower prices on high-quality meats at their neighborhood grocery stores, according to economic and agricultural experts. The price of a quality roast or steak -- both in supermarkets and in restaurants -- will drop more than lower-grade cuts of beef such as hamburger, they said. "It will probably be mid-January, maybe three or four weeks, before consumers see an impact," Chris Hurt, professor of agricultural economics at Purdue University, said yesterday in a telephone interview. A spot check at several Seattle-area supermarkets found beef prices stable over the last few days...Cattle futures plummet on mad cowCattle futures cratered Friday, a manifestation of continuing concerns over the discovery of mad-cow disease in Washington State earlier this week. In the first trading session since the Chicago Mercantile Exchange moved to expand price limits, benchmark contracts for live and feeder cattle both locked in "limit-down" maximum losses for a single session of 3 cents per pound...MSU economists: Cattle prices could drop 15 percent Marsh and MSU economists Gary Brester and Duane Griffith have compared their computer models of the economic impact of BSE and found their estimates closely agree with those put out by the USDA's Livestock Marketing Information Center. Not all of the countries that buy U.S. beef have banned its imports. The economists estimate that a nine percent decrease in exports, which increases domestic beef supply, could translate into a 13-15 percent decline in fed cattle prices. "That would mean we might be facing a decrease of about $12 to $14 per hundredweight over the next few weeks on slaughter steer prices," said Brester...Editorial: Natural concerns should not give way to panic Wondering if the nation's $175-billion beef industry is the new target is understandable. It's even more natural to question whether the single case discovered here will lead to similar devastation caused in Britain, where 60,000 to 80,000 cows were ultimately affected, and 150 people got the disease. The Bush administration insists the answer to both question is no. And until they say otherwise, the nation, and its beef customers, should resist the panic, instead remembering that America has one of the world's safest food supply systems. Standard inspection practices led to the discovery of the case in question and eventually will answer the burning question: How did this cow get infected?...Editorial: Beef bungling With a beef-cow industry that runs 33 million cattle, a third of which are slaughtered annually, the United States has a lot to lose should a consumer-frightening malady like mad-cow disease infect its herds. So caution is warranted, regarding both careful herd inspection and not jumping to conclusions about the extent of this disease. A single Holstein in Washington state has been found to have had the brain-destroying proteins that cause bovine spongiform encephalopathy, or BSE. In retrospect, just given the size of the herd it would have been surprising if the disease that has tormented Britain, Europe, Japan and Canada since the mid-1980s would not show up in the United States at some point...As Probe of Infected Cow Spreads, So Does Worry Cattle in other states may have eaten the same contaminated feed that infected a Washington state Holstein with mad cow disease, but investigators who want to track the infection to its source are being confounded by the lack of an organized system that would lead them to the herd where the cow was born, officials said yesterday. The lack of a reliable tracking system, and a complex trail of clues, rumors and false leads, mean it could be days or months -- or never -- before all the links are fully explored, officials said. For a nation already jittery about the Holstein, the expanding investigation could spread worry. "The epidemiological investigation becomes a tangled web of different possibilities," said W. Ron DeHaven, deputy administrator and chief veterinary officer at the Agriculture Department. "Some of those do lead back to Canada. Some take us into the state of Washington and other states, as well." For the first time since the mad cow case came to light on Tuesday, DeHaven and other regulators said they are considering strengthening the nation's testing system for mad cow disease, and installing an electronic tracking system that would follow animals from birth to death. They also plan to revisit a controversial USDA policy that allows non-ambulatory animals into the nation's food supply -- the infected Holstein was a "downer" cow -- many food safety advocates and legislative initiatives have unsuccessfully tried to eliminate these animals as a food source...Mad Cow Alerts Began Years Ago For more than three years, consumer groups, members of Congress and scientists have warned of the inadequacy or insufficiency of government efforts to prevent the spread of mad cow disease into the United States. The General Accounting Office, Congress's investigative arm, in 2000 criticized poor enforcement by federal inspectors of a ban on certain types of cattle feed believed to cause the spread of the disease. Sixteen months later it issued a second report making similar criticisms...US mad cow link questioned in Creutzfeldt-Jakob cases Family and friends of American victims of Creutzfeldt-Jakob Disease, the fatal brain disorder sometimes linked to mad cow disease, on Friday questioned whether the wasting illness that killed their loved ones was actually due to eating contaminated U.S. beef. After federal authorities said on Tuesday that a cow in Washington state was found to have mad cow disease, public health experts have been calling for a review of the U.S. Agriculture Department's screening procedures for cattle. But some victim's families have gone further, saying that the human form of the disease may have already hit the United States and that the government has been lax in its testing possible links and enforcing safety standards...Bush Still Eating Beef Despite Scare, Aide Says President Bush, the former governor of the nation's top cattle state, has no plans to stop eating beef despite growing worry about mad cow disease, a White House spokesman said on Friday. "He's continued to eat beef," White House spokesman Scott McClellan told reporters traveling with the president to his ranch. The U.S. food supply is safe and public risk from the discovery of the disease is low, McClellan added. The president had had beef "in the last couple of days," McClellan said...

Friday, December 26, 2003


NYT Editorial: Tongass Travesty The Bush administration has pulled another thread from the intricate legal tapestry shielding the national forests from excessive logging. On Tuesday, it announced that the Tongass National Forest in Alaska would be denied protections provided by the so-called roadless rule, a federal regulation prohibiting the building of roads -- and by definition most commercial activity -- on 58.5 million acres of national forests. The administration presents the new policy as a necessary tonic for southeast Alaska's depressed economy, and as a necessary response to a state lawsuit that it says it could never have won. The reality is otherwise. This is essentially a holiday gift to Senator Ted Stevens and Gov. Frank Murkowski, both of whom have lobbied for the resumption of the clear-cutting that has already stripped the nation's only temperate rain forest of a half million acres of old-growth trees. The announcement came wrapped in the same deceptive packaging that has camouflaged much of this administration's forest policy. The most egregious example was the Forest Service's disingenuous assertion that the new policy would allow logging on only 300,000 acres of the Tongass, or about 3 percent of the 9.6 million roadless acres that are earmarked for protection...Editorial: Tongass roads lead to nowhere U.S. taxpayers can howl as loudly as environmentalists over Bush administration plans to expand logging in Alaska's Tongass National Forest. Predictably, the proceeds from timber sales will be less than the cost of preparing the sales and building roads, so the expense to the national treasury is a serious question...Efforts to round up wild horses will continue in national forest An effort to round up horses in the Carson National Forest will continue despite an announcement from the U.S. Forest Service that it had been suspended. The Forest Service announced this week that the roundup in the Jarita Mesa Wild Horse Territory within the El Rito Ranger District had come to an end without a single horse captured. But Carlos LoPopolo, director of the New Mexico Horse Project, said his organization intends to fulfill its contract, which expires Tuesday. "The Forest Service misspoke," LoPopolo said. "We are going to try and get the job done."...Justice Dept. official knows the West As assistant attorney general for environment and natural resources, Sansonetti, 53, occupies a crucial but little-known post in the Justice Department. He and his staff of 450 lawyers handle all environmental litigation for the federal government. A big man with a round face, a taste for the good life and a mean game of tennis, he's the only one of John Ashcroft's assistants to hail from west of the Mississippi. And he says that's brought an important understanding of the issues for a division of the Justice Department where two-thirds of the cases come from the West. After all, until 1989, it was known as the Lands Division...Flying with ducks, thinking like them key to wildlife survey Ducks and geese aren't the only ones flying south for the winter -- they're being joined by members of the U-S Fish and Wildlife Service. Some 16 pilot-biologists fly with the birds from the Arctic Ocean to the Gulf of Mexico, including Alaska and Canada. It's all part of the largest and possibly most reliable wildlife survey in the world...`Split estate' sparks conflicts between developers, landowners The separation of surface and mineral rights occurred across the West when the government retained the mineral rights to large swaths of land it manages. Many private landowners, particularly during the Depression, sold the rights to raise money. Colorado law requires notifying property buyers if mineral rights aren't included. State and federal government officials throughout the region also urge companies to try to negotiate agreements with surface owners and can require bonds to cover damages. The Bureau of Land Management office in Farmington, N.M., which oversees most of the 20,000 wells in the gas-rich San Juan Basin, has produced a video on landowners' concerns to show to industry employees. In Wyoming, ranchers and state and industry representatives have drafted procedures for mediating disputes. The state has 40,300 wells, with thousands more planned...Energy expansion prompts concern over air pollution in Four Corners Plans to add thousands of natural gas wells in the Four Corners region has prompted concern among state and federal agencies about skyrocketing air pollution. San Juan County, N.M., has only one-fifth of the Albuquerque area's population of 557,000. Yet state air-quality experts say the area posts some of the highest levels of surface ozone in the state. "It is surprising," New Mexico Air Quality Bureau manager Mary Uhl told The Denver Post. "Most ozone problems in the United States occur in metropolitan areas with populations greater than a million."...Editorial: Lift the ban We've explained here before why we believe a ban on the carrying of firearms in U.S. national parks is based on a dangerous delusion, given that visitors to these often remote areas aren't somehow magically immunized against criminals or attacks by animals. Americans shouldn't have to surrender their Second Amendment rights or an effective means of self-defense, we've pointed out, when visiting their own "public" lands. While firearms are permitted on most national forests and lands administered by the Bureau of Land Management, they are forbidden in all but a few national parks. Drug gangs are understandably drawn to nation parks and state and federal forests due to their remoteness, and an ability to operate there with little fear of detection. But an added appeal must be that the gangs know they have little chance of encountering campers or hikers who are armed and able to defend themselves...Leases could net Wyoming millions Details of a series of coal deals that could be worth hundreds of millions of dollars and lead to mining 1.5 billion tons of coal in the southern Powder River Basin were released this week by the Bureau of Land Management. The leases ultimately will provide substantial revenues to the state of Wyoming when the federal government pays the state its share of the lease payments...
NCBA Advisory

December 26, 2003

To: NCBA Member Organizations
Contact: Rick McCarty, NCBA Denver 303-694-0305
Kendal Frazier 303-694-0305

Subject: BSE Updates

Dec. 26, 2003 BSE Information Update

-This is the third day of the USDA investigation.
-The International Reference Laboratory in Weybridge, England on Dec. 25 reviewed the slides of the BSE tests performed in the United States and concluded that they were interpreted correctly - positive. The lab is conducting its own further tests for confirmation on tissue sent for testing.
-A third premise in Washington state is under quarantine. That is a bull calf feeding operation in Sunnyside, Wash. That is where the calf recently born to the infected cow was sent. The calf is in a facility with 400 other bull calves ranging in age from 7 to 30 days.
-As part of the trace-forward investigation, the other two calves born to the infected cow have been identified. One died at birth in 2001. The other is in the index herd and under quarantine with the other 4,000 animals.
-Investigators are looking at two paths in the trace-back investigation. One is a livestock market where the owner of the infected cow bought animals in October 2001. The other is a dairy cow finishing herd of about 100 animals.
-FDA continues to believe that the infected animal consumed contaminated feed early in its life as the incubation period for BSE is four to six years. The infected cow is believed to be 4 to 4 ½ years old. It was alert but non-ambulatory at time of slaughter.
-It is too early for USDA to speculate about indemnity plans for cattle owners.
The list of countries with temporary beef bans against the United States has grown from the 10 reported Dec. 24 with USMEF reporting 18 countries. Almost all export trade has stopped, as has been the protocol in this situation. Canada still permits imports of U.S. beef from cattle under 30 months of age.
-USDA on Dec. 27 is sending a trade delegation to Japan led by David Hegwood, special counsel to Secretary Veneman, along with former NCBA staff member Chuck Lambert.
-NCBA has called on the Bush Administration to make resumption of beef exports the top trade priority within the Administration, and for the Administration to use all resources available to it to minimize the period of trade disruption.
-NCBA has called on USDA to step up the timeline for creating and implementing an animal ID program. This work was already in progress and NCBA has been a leader in the program. But even if such a system had recently been put in place, as in Canada, there would be limitations. In Canada, animals could be traced forward rapidly because they were younger animals that had been born into the system. Trace-back was problematic because older animals don't have birth-to-harvest documentation.
-As part of its BSE surveillance plan, USDA has been increasing the number of animals it tests. In FY2003, 20,526 have been tested. The goal for FY2004 is 38,000.
-NCBA is calling for USDA to implement a "test and hold" program on carcasses where the animal is being tested for BSE.

Media Coverage

NCBA held its third tele-news conference call with the news media today. The more than 60 news media that participated in the call included ABC News, NCB News, CNN, Associated Press, The New York Times, Nation's Restaurant News, Meat Processing Magazine, the Seattle Post-Intelligencer, and the Baltimore Sun. In addition, NCBA spokespersons conducted interviews with all the major print and television network and cable outlets. We continue to deliver the message that U.S. beef is safe and that we are working with the government to find out the origin of the cow and the cause of the Washington BSE case.

An editorial by NCBA President Eric Davis has been submitted to USA Today for Monday publication. The editorial reassures consumers that U.S. beef remains the world's safest.

Terry Stokes to Meet Monday in Washington D.C. With Government Officials

NCBA CEO Terry Stokes will be in Washington D.C. Monday to meet with high ranking government officials to discuss trade and other issues about the BSE case. NCBA has organized a meeting Monday with a coalition of industry organizations to discuss the many issues surrounding the BSE incident.

Positive Reassurance Statement from the American Culinary Federation

Ed Leonard, president of the American Culinary Federation (ACF), issued a statement to all professional chefs concerning the Washington state BSE case. "The American Culinary Federation accepts the statement by Agriculture Secretary Ann Veneman that the risk to the nation's food supply and human health resulting from this single incident is extremely low, "said Leonard, a certified master chef and executive chef of Westchester Country Club in Rye, N.Y. "We are confident in the systems implemented by the U.S. beef industry and U.S. government to ensure the safety of America's beef supply." The entire ACF statement can be found at

Additional information can be found at


Why mad cow scare won't sap U.S. economy

Prices for live cattle futures on the Chicago Mercantile Exchange were down the maximum limit (1.5 cents per pound) Wednesday to 89.175 cents. After trading limit-down for two consecutive days, the limit will be increased to 3 cents. If they trade limit-down for another two days, the limit will be increased again to 5 cents per pound.

Assuming the worst -- that all exports of U.S. beef will stop -- suggests that a drop in demand of 9 percent is the immediate effect. This would push cattle futures prices down by roughly 8 cents per pound, and would mean just four days of limit-down trading.

But because we will see an additional drop in demand due to a decline in domestic consumption, the price is likely to fall by even more. We suspect that price declines could reach roughly 30 percent, and that cattle futures prices may fall to as low as 60 cents per pound -- eight days down the limit.

But there's an intereseting aspect to recent trading in live cattle futures on the Merc. On Dec. 9, the same day the cow in question was slaughtered, the live cattle future traded limit-down. It then fell sharply again on Dec. 10. It appears that someone knew something. In the following two weeks, cattle prices rose again, and by last Tuesday, were almost back to their Dec. 8 level.

Someone, somewhere, is breathing a huge sigh of relief that the USDA finally made this information public late Tuesday...

Canada won't widen mad cow clampdown

It came as no surprise yesterday when U.S. authorities said they had received early confirmation that a Holstein cow in Washington state was infected with the disease, said Dr. Brian Evans, Canada's chief veterinarian. American authorities are now awaiting the final results of independent tests from world specialists in England, expected by the end of the week.

It's not likely even that will lead Ottawa to change its decision to restrict just a few beef products, rather than close the border entirely as some other countries have done, said Evans, chief veterinary officer with the Canadian Food Inspection Agency. "It doesn't change our response to the U.S. circumstance as it currently is and ... (the finding) is what was expected," Evans said in an interview.

Meanwhile, a top U.S. official and a veterinarian familiar with the probe into where the animal came from said the infected cow may have brought in the disease from outside the state or country.

They both mentioned Canada as one place from which cattle have been imported...

Mad cow scare likely to tighten meat screening

As the American beef industry struggles with its first case of mad cow disease, the Department of Agriculture is debating whether to do far more screening of meat and change the way meat from suspect animals is used, department officials say.

The officials would not say exactly what they would recommend but acknowledged that European and Japanese regulators screen millions of animals using tests that take only three hours, fast enough to stop diseased carcasses from being cut up for food.

American inspectors have tested fewer than 30,000 of the roughly 300 million animals slaughtered in the last nine years, and get results days or weeks later...

BSE blame flows north

Anguish voiced by Canadian beef producers last May is being eerily echoed by Washington State cattlemen living near the latest ground zero for mad cow disease.

And a common suspicion emerges in their expressions of fear and loathing -- that Canada could well be the source of their impending misery.

"There are a lot of rumours that cow came from Canada and if it's true, they'll never open the border again," said Rod Vandegraff, whose family operates a large cattle feedlot in Sunnyside, about 10 km from Mabton, Wash., where the sick cow was found...

Experts debate possible effects of disease on USA's food supply

Now that agriculture officials are certain that a 4-year-old Holstein cow in Washington state is the USA's first case of mad cow disease, millions of Americans are left to wonder: Should beef still be, as the ad campaign says, "what's for dinner"?

Experts say many common cuts of beef pose no risk -- boneless steaks and roasts, for instance. But critics of the USA's multibillion-dollar cattle-feeding industry say loopholes in rules meant to prevent the disease still allow ground-up cow parts to be fed to cattle, a known way to transmit the fatal disease.

Consumer advocates also question meat-processing methods that scrape every bit from the bone. A federal survey last year found 35% of such meat contains spinal and nervous system tissue, the most infectious material in a diseased animal.

But some researchers think it could have occurred by chance when a normal protein in the cow mutated into a prion. Fred Cohen, a pharmacologist at University of California at San Francisco and Prusiner's colleague, believes that happened in the case this week and one last spring in Canada. If so, such occurrences are likely to be rare. Scientists at a federal lab in Ames, Iowa, have examined the brains of tens of thousands of suspicious-looking cows over the past several years and identified the disease only once.

The cattle industry downplays the possibility of a spontaneous occurrence. Gary Weber, executive director of the National Cattlemen's Beef Association, calls it "a theory that most, if not all (mad cow) experts that I talk to dismiss. ... There is no evidence."...

Denver Post Editorial: Restore confidence in beef

One case of mad cow disease in the United States isn't cause for public panic - but it's also not an excuse for official complacency. The U.S. Department of Agriculture, state officials and the beef industry must take additional steps beyond those already announced.

Mad cow disease - also known as bovine spongiform encephelopathy, or BSE - doesn't seem to jump directly from animal to animal. Instead, it appears to spread when cattle eat feed that contains ground-up bits of infected animals. So the USDA needs to do more than just trace where meat from the infected animal was shipped. The agency also should find out what the infected animal had eaten, what other cattle consumed the same products, and where meat from those animals went.

The health risks to humans are likely very low - but they're not zero. The top priority must be protecting human health, even if that means imposing short-term hardship on the beef business...

Officials insist woman's death not related to mad cow disease

Doctors don't know how a Lucas woman contracted Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease, but they're sure it didn't come from eating tainted beef.

Creutzfeldt-Jakob is a rare disease that afflicts about 3,600 people each year in the United States, including two or three in Kansas officials said. On Sunday, 62-year-old Linda Foulke died of the disease.

Doctors insist the type of CJD that killed Foulke was not the kind that results from eating beef from cattle with mad cow disease. The variant Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease, known as vCJD, has been confirmed in only 153 cases around the world - 143 of them in Britain...

Beef groups seek to close borders to imports

South Dakota Stockgrowers Association and its national affiliate, R-CALF USA, have called on the United States to close its borders to all imports of live cattle, beef and livestock feed until the suspected case of mad cow disease in Washington state is more fully investigated.

"There are a number of investigations taking place to answer questions about this cow," Stockgrowers president Ken Knuppe said in a news release. "Until we know more about this situation, we believe the safest move is to halt imports. We know that certain types of feed can cause this disease, and although those feed products are outlawed here in the U.S., they may not be in other countries."

An R-CALF news release said the rationale for closing the border is based on the likelihood that if BSE were found in the United States, it would most likely have entered through imported ruminants or ruminant products. The news release also said the border closure would prevent the buildup of excess supplies of beef and cattle, thus lessening the harmful impact of the case on the U.S. cattle market...

Washington Post: Origin of Sick Cow Sought

In tracking records from the Sunny Dene Ranch in Mabton, which acquired the cow in October 2001, Agriculture Department officials had initially said that one of two herds in Washington state was the birth herd. Identifying this herd is crucial, because the cow was probably infected before it got to Mabton.

It now appears that the cow has had another previous home, which may even have been out of the state or out of the country. Each step back that investigators go to find the birth farm increases the number of ways the infection might have spread elsewhere.

"While we initially went from the index herd where we found two locations, we are tracing back further from there," W. Ron DeHaven, USDA's deputy administrator and chief veterinary officer, said last evening. "It gets to be a spider web of possibilities from there."

Regulators want to find the birth herd and the sources of the infected Holstein's feed to predict which other cattle may have eaten the same feed and are at risk. Every extra step in their search dramatically complicates efforts to clamp down on the source of the disease.

A veterinarian in the Yakima Valley familiar with the investigation but who asked not to be identified said he had learned that the "cow didn't spend her whole life in the state of Washington." In recent years, a large number of cattle have been imported into the Yakima Valley, primarily from Canada, following a rapid expansion of local dairy herds, according to another veterinarian, Ernie Munck. "I have several clients that have brought in cows from Canada," said Munck, a large-animal veterinarian from Prosser, Wash. "One client brought in a few truckloads from Ontario."...

Japan to increase NZ beef exports

The Japanese government would try to increase imports from New Zealand and Australia by sending officials there as early as January, officials at its Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries told the Japan Today newspaper.

Only New Zealand and Australia now remain as sources of Japan's beef imports, with the rest of the world's top 10 suppliers all being hit by either foot-and-mouth disease or BSE, the farm ministry official said...

Thursday, December 25, 2003


Off-Road Officials Take To The Trails For Some Four-Wheeled Investigation On November 17, several members of Colorado off-road agencies, coalitions and clubs came together for what would be best termed a "ride of the minds." These experienced forest riders set out on ATVs for a full day's ride to share ideas and better understand current usage of the Rampart Range Recreational Area. This forested high-mountain maze of trails may see as many as 250,000 riders a year. Along these trails located just outside Denver, discussions took place that touched on trail markers and what information should be added, how to better inform riders of local trail issues and get them involved, overviews on trail management and thinning projects being conducted In the area... No food around bears, order says After two years of revisions, the U.S. Forest Service has approved an order to keep food away from bears in more parts of western Wyoming's Bridger-Teton and Shoshone national forests. The expanded order, which replaces one implemented 13 years ago, was signed last week by regional foresters Rick Cable and Jack Troyer. It will take effect March 1, Bridger-Teton spokeswoman Mary Lendman said. The order spells out how human and animal food, dead game animals, garbage and hygiene items should be stored by forest users so they do not attract bears. Federal land managers contend the order is necessary to deal with increasing bear and human encounters and ensure human safety. It has been criticized by several Wyoming counties, which have threatened to challenge it in court. They claim it will hurt tourism and increase outfitter expenses. More than 700 human-bear conflicts have been reported in the area the past two years. Wildlife biologists believe the number can be reduced if food is hung in trees or locked in containers...P.B. one of 3 sites Forest Service to study ATV impact The Mark Twain National Forest has targeted three southeast Missouri sites popular for illegal use by four-wheel drive and all-terrain vehicles for a study aimed at encouraging more responsible land use. The proposal would open 144 miles of trails for use by enthusiasts of state-licensed off-highway vehicles in forests near Potosi, Fredericktown and Poplar Bluff, Mark Twain National Forest spokeswoman Charlotte Wiggins said Tuesday. As part of the proposal, 67 miles of roads and trails now being driven on illegal in ecologically sensitive areas would be closed, she said...Colorado Wild suing Forest Service In an eleventh-hour effort to stop the logging of trees burned in the Missionary Ridge Fire, Colorado Wild on Tuesday sued the Forest Service. The complaint, filed in U.S. District Court in Denver, asks that the agency be found in violation of the National Forest Management Act and the National Environmental Policy Act. It claims the intended logging is arbitrary, capricious and an abuse of discretion. It also asks that no logging occur until the agency complies with the national laws...SLC denies landowners motor access Owners of land in the upper reaches of Big Cottonwood Canyon's Cardiff Fork have won approval from the U.S. Forest Service to access their property with motor vehicles. They now face a potentially larger obstacle: Salt Lake City. On Tuesday -- a day after the Forest Service granted four landowners a permit to use motor vehicles on forest-managed portions of a dirt road -- city officials said the property owners may not use such vehicles on the part of the road that goes through city-owned property...Column: The Endangered Species Act On Dec. 28, the Endangered Species Act (ESA) turns 30. But before celebrating the grand anniversary of this landmark federal legislation, we should ask ourselves a sobering question. What has the ESA really accomplished in the past three decades? The answer gives little cause for celebration. For starters, the ESA has done precious little to help endangered animals. Since the act's passage, seven American species have gone extinct. Meanwhile, while more than 1,260 species have been listed as "endangered" or "threatened," only 10 North American species have "recovered," often due to efforts unrelated to the ESA. Even worse, the ESA has often backfired, prompting needless destruction of wildlife habitat as it expanded from its initial mission of helping endangered species to blocking economic activity across the country...Wolf caught by Paradise Valley trapper A wolf that had wandered far afield was captured in the Paradise Valley last week, just a few days after a resident pack had attacked sheep for the first time. The wolf, a male at least 2 years old, wore a radio collar and ear tags and had last been spotted west of Salmon, Idaho, on Oct. 22, according to Carter Niemeyer, wolf recovery coordinator for the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service in Idaho. That same wolf was captured Dec. 19 by a leghold trap south of here, in the Eight Mile area. The trap is owned by a private trapper seeking coyotes, who notified authorities when he found he had captured a wolf instead. The wolf had traveled about 180 air miles, which translates into a lot more than that, considering the rough country between central Idaho and the Paradise Valley...2 Eastern Montana men admit sale of frozen walleyes Gerald Lynn Beason, 54, of Circle, and Aaron Keith McIntyre, 31, of Glendive, pleaded guilty Tuesday to an indictment charging them with Lacey Act violations by illegally transporting wildlife in interstate commerce. Assistant U.S. Attorney Kris McLean said that in May 1999, McIntyre approached two undercover agents of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and asked whether they were interested in buying 3,000 pounds of frozen walleye that a friend had for sale. McIntyre provided the agents with Beason's phone number...Pilgrim family appeals case to higher court Lawyers for the Pilgrim family filed an emergency motion Wednesday in the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, seeking to overturn a recent decision by a federal court judge in the family's legal battle with the National Park Service. Pacific Legal Foundation, which is representing the family, asked the appeals court in San Francisco to grant emergency access over a historic mining route to their property inside Wrangell-St. Elias National Park...Robert Redford gets heated up about the Bush environmental agenda, global warming, clean energy and worms Redford's environmental activism has gone beyond renewable-energy advocacy, from lobbying for the Clean Air Act and Clean Water Act in the 1970s to holding international conferences on global warming in the '80s to campaigning for pro-environment Democratic politicians in the '90s (which he says he also plans to do in the 2004 elections). Still, even the great horse whisperer has a few environmental skeletons in his closet. A onetime race car driver and former owner of various all-terrain vehicles (not to mention a major player in notoriously eco-insensitive Hollywood), Redford freely admits to having been "extremely hypocritical" in the past. After reading the following Grist interview, though, even the purist of environmentalists will have to admit that few celebrities -- or politicians and activists, for that matter -- have shown as much dogged dedication to the environmental movement as Robert Redford...Court blocks Bush air pollution rules A federal appeals court on Wednesday blocked some of the Bush administration's changes to the Clean Air Act from going into effect, dealing a major setback to one of the White House's biggest environmental decisions. A three-judge panel of the U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia agreed with 12 states and several major cities that argued they would face irreparable harm to their environments and public health from the changes. The judges ordered the Environmental Protection Agency not to implement its rules change until the panel can make a final determination about the case. That court challenge, which could last well into the next year, takes aim at an EPA rule making it easier for utilities, refineries and other industrial facilities to make repairs in the name of routine maintenance without installing additional pollution controls...Thirsty West eyes water-rich farms Ron Aschermann could barely eke out a living raising melons, cucumbers, tomatoes or other crops on his 300-acre farm. But quitting the business will earn him more than $1.2 million. Aschermann and scores of others farmers on the high plains of southeastern Colorado are selling water, which once produced melons, to the Denver suburb of Aurora. The prairie will retake land that has long known the plow. The same thing is happening across the West as the nation's fastest-growing region shifts more water from farms to thirsty cities. Billions of gallons changed hands last year in eight Western states, and even more will flow in years to come. California recently approved a 75-year shift of water from desert farms to San Diego, the biggest transfer of its kind in U.S. history...Tribe wins $17.8 million contract A $17.8 million contract to build part of the Ridges Basin Dam was awarded to the Ute Mountain Ute Tribe's construction company, Weeminuche Construction Authority, the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation announced Tuesday. The contract, the fifth and largest to be awarded to the Ute company so far, is part of a $500 million project to build the Animas La-Plata Project the dam, a 120,000-acre-foot reservoir, a pumping station and a pipeline. It brings to nearly $60 million in contracts awarded to Towaoc-based Weeminuche to build portions of the project, designed to settle water rights claims of the Ute Mountain Ute, Southern Ute and Navajo tribes...Old West craft: Valley home to finest bookmakers in the business Cowboy boots helped put the Valley on the map. In old workshops, unsung masters of the trade use awls, hammers and antique Singer sewing machines to craft their art. On the heels of presidents and princes, movie heroes and country stars, their boots left marks that stretch into the far corners of the globe. In 1925, Abraham Rios opened a small boot shop in Raymondville after leaving his home in Mexico, where he learned the old family trade of leatherwork. Soon, cowboys off the King Ranch were taking their business to Rios...Gee, what a second go-round A 14-year-old horse has changed Mickey Gee's life. The Wichita Falls, Texas, steer wrestler says he is returning to the rodeo tour full-time again this year. All of this because of a horse named Wasp. After surprising the rodeo world by winning the world steer wrestling championship in 1999 at 24, he might as well have been in the witness protection program for the last three years. Very few people heard from him. He only went to small Texas rodeos, and not very many of them...
Officials Say Death Not Related to Mad Cow

Doctors say a Kansas woman who died from Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease did not get it from eating tainted beef.

Creutzfeldt-Jakob is a rare disease that afflicts about 3,600 people each year in the United States.

A 62-year-old Lucas woman died Sunday of the disease.

Doctors say the type of disease that killed her was not the kind
that results from eating beef from cattle with mad cow disease...
U.K. Lab Confirms Mad Cow Case in U.S.
British Lab Provides Confirmation of Case of Mad Cow Disease in U.S., Agriculture Officials Say

British lab provided initial independent confirmation Thursday that the United States has its first case of mad cow disease, U.S. agriculture officials said. Federal investigators labored to trace the path the infected animal took from birth to slaughter.

Scientists at the Veterinary Laboratories Agency in Weybridge, England, told the Agriculture Department they concur with the reading of tests on the stricken Holstein cow that led U.S. officials to conclude the animal had the brain-wasting disease, U.S. officials said.

"We are considering this confirmation," said USDA spokeswoman Alisa Harrison, adding that the English lab still will conduct its own test using another sample from the cow's brain. Final test results on the cow from Washington state were expected by the end of the week, she said.

Professor Steven Edwards, chief of the British lab, said those results already have been given to USDA. But Edwards refused to disclose whether the tests show that the animal had mad cow disease, or bovine spongiform encephalopathy.

Meanwhile, Harrison said, investigators were working through the holiday to prevent a potential outbreak of the deadly disease and to calm public fears about the food supply. Government officials have said there is no threat to the food supply because the cow's brain and spine nerve tissue where scientists say the disease is found were removed before it was sent on for processing...

U.S. Beef Banned by 15 Nations

Major American trading partners have banned U.S. beef since the government on Tuesday revealed the discovery of a case of mad cow disease in Washington state, threatening to seriously damage an industry that had been enjoying growing exports and the highest prices in years.

Japan is the largest export market for U.S. beef, followed by South Korea, Mexico and then Canada, according to USDA's economic-research service.

Japan, Mexico, South Korea, Russia, Egypt, Hong Kong, Taiwan, Colombia, Singapore, Thailand, Brazil, Malaysia, Australia, Chile and Ukraine have all banned U.S. beef imports, the U.S. Meat Export Federation said. The countries represent about 87 percent of volume and value for beef exports.

U.S. ranchers export about 10 percent of domestic production. Overseas sales were projected to reach $3.2 billion this year, Mr. Dierlam said. Industry and government officials want those markets reopened as soon as possible...

Some local stores pulling meat from shelves

PORTLAND - The state was lending a hand to federal investigators tracking down shipments of meat and byproducts from the first reported mad cow case in the nation while several grocery chains decided Wednesday to remove meat possibly linked to the animal with the disease.

Safeway Inc. has stopped selling all fresh ground beef products from an Oregon supplier that received meat from the affected cow, said spokeswoman Bridget Flanagan.

"We're doing this voluntarily out of an abundance of caution," Flanagan said.

Safeway, which has 120 grocery stores in Oregon and southwest Washington, will re-evaluate its meat-buying practices and look for another supplier, she said.

Boise, Idaho-based Albertsons also released a statement asking customers to voluntarily return ground beef packages with a sell-by-date of Dec. 25 bought at their Oregon, Washington and northern Idaho stores.

Representatives for Albertsons, Fred Meyer, Safeway and WinCo Foods all said their chains get ground beef from Interstate Meat Distributors in Clackamas - one of two Oregon-based distributors that received parts of the tainted cow. All four chains have voluntarily removed ground beef produce from the affected distributors...

Organic Beef Industry Expects More Sales

Organic beef producers predict the U.S. mad cow scare will boost demand for their meat, which comes from animals fed only milk, grasses and grains from birth to slaughter.

Mad cow disease, officially known as bovine spongiform encephalopathy or BSE, is believed to be spread through cattle feed containing protein or bone meal from infected cows or sheep. Although the government banned feeding cattle such products in 1997, organic food advocates say the law has loopholes and is poorly enforced.

U.S. organic beef standards, which took effect in October 2002, provide for certification of producers whose practices have passed muster with either a state or private inspector. The standards include an all-vegetable diet once the animal is weaned.

``We will now see a huge increase in the demand'' for organic beef, which currently accounts for no more than 1 percent of U.S. beef sales, predicted Ronnie Cummins, national director of the Organic Consumers Association, of Little Marais, Minn.

Nick Maravell, owner of Nick's Organic Farm, said he sold all the beef from his small, but growing, Black Angus herd in Adamstown, Md., almost immediately after the autumn slaughter. Maravell, vice chairman of the Maryland Organic Food and Farming Association, said he expects next year's crop of six animals to go just as fast...

Mad cow scare not seen as a boon by poultry, pork producers

New concerns about U.S. beef safety don't offer any glee to producers of pork and poultry - they figure Americans' concerns about one food can easily translate to suspicions about others.

"This is not good for chicken," said Bill Roenigk, an official with the National Chicken Council. "Consumers should be and are concerned about their food supply. Anything that jeopardizes consumer confidence in the food supply is not good for us."

But an even bigger issue for U.S. agriculture will be how deeply Americans' confidence is shaken in the safety of the overall meat supply.

"It's just anybody's guess," said Jon Caspers, president of the National Pork Producers Council and a hog farmer in Swaledale, Iowa. "Markets don't deal with these things very often. It is hard to predict."

Now, concerns about food safety could have a negative effect for all producers, said Mike Ovesen, executive director of the Kentucky Pork Producers...

Nevada suspends import of Washington cows

Nevada agriculture officials have suspended the importation of dairy cattle from Washington state as federal officials try to trace the history of the animal that tested positive for mad cow disease.

State veterinarian David Thain said the ban will remain in place until federal investigators determine where the infected cow was born and locate other animals from that herd.

``We will do whatever is necessary to protect Nevada's cattle industry,'' Thain said Wednesday.

``We just don't know how widespread it is at this time.''...

Many Watching How Mad Cow Policy Unfolds

The Bush administration's handling of the mad cow case - a delicate balance between protecting the health of consumers and of the beef cattle industry - is being closely watched in farm states crucial in a close presidential race.

The nation's Farm Belt with its rural, more conservative states is at the core of President Bush's electoral strength. But some farm states - like Iowa, Missouri and Wisconsin - are competitive swing states.

``Politicians are going to have to move very quickly,'' said political analyst Floyd Ciruli of Colorado, where beef cattle are a crucial part of the state's economy. ``The psychological and political implications get well ahead of what's actually happening.''

``We want the government to make science-based decisions, not decisions based on emotion and distortion,'' said Dee Likes, executive vice president of the Kansas Livestock Association. The beef cattle is the largest industry in Kansas, so any missteps by government officials could severely hurt the state's economy.

A top priority for the administration and the beef industry is to prevent widespread panic about the food supply, while determining whether the case is isolated.

``What you don't want is for it to grow into a major national crisis the way it did in Britain,'' said presidential scholar Charles Jones...

US mad cow scare may benefit NZ

New Zealand beef producers could reap increased exports to Asia in the wake of the mad cow disease scare in the United States, farmers predict.

But there are also fears of a temporary downturn in the US - the destination for nearly 60 per cent of New Zealand's $1.6 billion-a-year export beef market - as consumers turn off beef.

Federated Farmers meat and fibre chairman Ian Corney said yesterday that the clampdown on US beef by several Asian countries could prove a windfall for beef farmers in New Zealand, which remains free of BSE.

"There certainly will be an opportunity there. I wouldn't expect it will be a bonanza. It will be an opportunity we will be able to capitalise on. We don't like capitalising on other people's misfortune, but that's what makes the world go round."

Consumers might also switch from eating beef to lamb, he said...

U.S. beef entered Korean market without proper test procedures

Despite mounting fears over a potential outbreak of mad cow disease in Korea, U.S. beef has entered the nation without going through proper test procedures for the disease, a government official said yesterday.
Also, since no "country of origin" label is required on the meat sold in restaurants, experts fear some American meat may be misrepresented as Korean.

"We need to inspect each cow's brain tissue to discover mad cow disease to know whether the beef from the United States is infected or not. But we have followed the convention of not testing any imported beef for mad cow disease," an Agriculture Ministry official said.

"What we do is just check the cow-growing and processing system in the import markets."

Accordingly, some U.S. beef in Korea may carry the fatal disease, he explained...

Texans Say They Will Still Make Menudo

The menudo will still simmer and the barbacoa will still roast in the Rio Grande Valley, despite news that a cow may have contracted mad cow disease.

``It's a tradition. We just eat it twice a year,'' 55-year-old Rosa Morales said Wednesday as she selected spices to season the 20 pounds of frozen beef tripe she had just loaded into her shopping cart.

Morales said she was shopping for a friend who had misgivings about fat content but wasn't worried by reports that a U.S. cow may have had mad cow disease. One fear of mad cow is that humans can get variant Creutzfeldt-Jakob, an incurable disease, by eating tissue from infected animals--specifically from the brain and spinal cord.

Menudo, a spicy soup made from the lining of the cow's stomach, and barbacoa, made from the cow's head and brain, are the Mexican border version of the holiday Christmas ham.

Menudo is usually boiled in large pots for eight or more hours with red chilies, onions, garlic, and hominy.

Barbacoa is likewise made to feed crowds, with the meat traditionally wrapped in burlap bags with onions, garlic, and cilantro and roasted overnight in 2-foot deep holes in the back yard. It is typically served on Sundays...
Merry Christmas

LA Times: Disease May Spoil Dairy, Meat Profits

On a typical day, beef broker Rod Bolcao of Chino collects as much as 60 cents a pound for the 300 to 400 dairy cows he moves to slaughterhouses around the West. Wednesday was anything but typical.

The best deal he could wrangle was for 30 cents, and he was stuck holding more than 60 head of cattle. Suddenly, Bolcao lamented, "there is no market."

With investigators still trying to piece together just what happened at a farm in Mabton, Wash., meatpackers in California said they were wary of buying much in the way of supplies, and middlemen such as Bolcao were holding off cutting deals with cattle farmers because they didn't want to end up stuck with a bunch of beef they couldn't move.

"People," Bolcao said, "are just shutting their doors for now."...

Wednesday, December 24, 2003

LA Times: Tainted Feed Suspected in First U.S. Case of `Mad Cow' Disease

Agriculture Department officials said Wednesday that the dairy cow that tested positive this week for "mad cow" disease, a first in the United States, probably contracted the illness through feed containing tainted animal parts, despite a federal ban on putting such materials in cattle feed.

The diseased cow was born about 1999, officials said, two years after a federal rule took effect that was designed to stop cattle from receiving tainted feed. Officials said they could not speculate whether a violation of the rule had led the animal to become infected.

The rule stated that cattle feed may not contain most proteins from mammals. It was intended to prevent a repeat of Britain's "mad cow" crisis, in which the disease was thought to have infected more than 183,000 cattle in the 1980s and 1990s, primarily because proteins from diseased animals were fed to healthy ones.

Dr. Stephen Sundlof, director of the Center for Veterinary Medicine at the Food and Drug Administration, said compliance with the feed rule was only about 75% when it was enacted in 1997. It has since risen to 99%, he said...
Blood closely screened against human variant of BSE

Experts have suspected that the disorder, variant Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease, might be spread through blood transfusions.

In November 1999, UBS began deferring donors who had spent time in the United Kingdom from 1980 to 1996, which is the period extending from the probable beginning of the mad cow disease outbreak in cattle in the United Kingdom to when safeguards were fully implemented.

Additional restrictions were added in May 2002, and as of October 2002, UBS defers donors who have traveled to or lived in Europe for a total of five years or more between 1980 and the present, including time spent in the United Kingdom between 1980 and 1996; are members of the U.S. military, are civilian employees or dependents of military employees who spent a total of six months or more on or associated with military bases in certain European countries between 1980 and 1996; or received a blood transfusion in the United Kingdom since 1980.

The Food and Drug Administration ordered these deferrals because of the possible risk of transmission of new variant Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease...
New York Times: Expert Warned That Mad Cow Was Imminent

Ever since he identified the bizarre brain-destroying proteins that cause mad cow disease, Dr. Stanley Prusiner, a neurologist at the University of California at San Francisco, has worried about whether the meat supply in America is safe.

He spoke over the years of the need to increase testing and safety measures. Then in May, a case of mad cow disease appeared in Canada, and he quickly sought a meeting with Ann M. Veneman, the secretary of agriculture. He was rebuffed, he said in an interview yesterday, until he ran into Karl Rove, senior adviser to President Bush.

So six weeks ago, Dr. Prusiner, who won the 1997 Nobel Prize in Medicine for his work on prions, entered Ms. Veneman's office with a message. "I went to tell her that what happened in Canada was going to happen in the United States," Dr. Prusiner said. "I told her it was just a matter of time."

...Animals that eat infected tissues can contract the disease, setting off an epidemic as animals eat each other via rendered meats. But misfolded proteins can also arise spontaneously in cattle and other animals, Dr. Prusiner said. It is not known whether meat from animals with that form of the disease could pass the disease to humans, he said, but it is a risk that greatly worries him.

Cattle with sporadic disease are probably entering the food chain in the United States in small numbers, Dr. Prusiner and other experts say.

...The only way to learn what the United States is facing is to test every animal, Dr. Prusiner said. Existing methods, used widely in Europe and Japan, grind up brain stem tissue and use an enzyme to measure amounts of infectious prions. Animals must have lots of bad prions to get a clear diagnosis.

Newer tests, by a variety of companies, are more sensitive, cheaper and faster. Dr. Prusiner said that his test could even detect extremely small amounts of infectious prion in very young animals with no symptoms. Sold by InPro Biotechnology in South San Francisco, a single testing operation could process 8,000 samples in 24 hours, he said.

British health officials will start using the test in February, Dr. Prusiner said. If adopted in this country, it would raise the price of a pound of meat by two to three cents, he said.

"We want to keep prions out of the mouths of humans," Dr. Prusiner said. "We don't know what they might be doing to us."...
Mexico Willing to Lift Ban on US Beef

In Mexico, an Agriculture Ministry official says his country is willing to lift its ban on U.S. beef, as soon as the United States proves that a suspected case of mad cow disease in Washington State is an isolated one.
The pledge comes from Food Safety Director Javier Trujillo. He says his primary concern is the health and welfare of consumers, and the Mexican cattle industry. But in the interests of bilateral trade, Mexico, which is one of the three largest importers of U.S. beef, is willing to be flexible.

"The very day that we have concluded that this is actually an isolated case, I would be prepared to lift the ban the following day," says Mr. Trujillo. "Otherwise, we have the obligation, as well as the authority, to keep the restrictions as we can justify scientifically."

Mr. Trujillo says a team of Mexican and Canadian specialists is planning to travel to the United States as early as next week to work with U.S. colleagues to investigate the situation...
Washington Post Editorial: Cow Madness

NO ONE WANTS American food regulators to emulate the British government minister who, in 1990, made his daughter Cordelia eat a hamburger on television to prove that his country's mad cow epidemic was harmless to humans. Nevertheless, it is important that the detection of a single U.S. cow with the illness more correctly known as bovine spongiform encephalopathy (BSE) be put into perspective. After the disease was first discovered in Britain -- and after scientists there first claimed that it could be passed from cows to beef-eating humans -- some predicted the onset of a mass epidemic, with tens or even hundreds of thousands of people contracting Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease (CJD), the human version of the illness.

But despite the fact that the epidemic proved to be far more widespread among cattle than predicted, affecting some 180,000 animals, the human impact has been far more limited than expected, with about 140 deaths thought to have been related to CJD, and not all of those were for certain. The links between the human and bovine versions of the disease are not well understood: Clearly, not everyone who ate infected meat caught the disease. Some CJD victims are thought to have contracted the illness from blood transfusions, not beef.

The means by which the disease spreads among cattle are not fully understood either. Although it seems clear that the British cattle epidemic was caused by the use of feed that contained ground bone meal -- a feed that is now banned in this country -- there also seem to be naturally occurring incidences of BSE as well as of scrapie, the version that appears in sheep. Until the source of the U.S. case is known, it is important not to jump to conclusions about how widespread the disease might be.

The discovery of a single cow with the illness does not, in other words, merit a consumer boycott of beef or a mass cattle slaughter on the scale that took place in Britain. For that matter, foreign boycotts of U.S. beef, while understandable until more facts are known, probably are not warranted either. In Europe, BSE has been used as a thinly veiled excuse to provide extra protection to domestic farmers. It wouldn't be surprising to see a recurrence of that phenomenon.

But the administration also must act quickly to maintain confidence in the industry. Its announcement yesterday of a recall of 10,000 pounds of meat that passed through the slaughterhouse on the same day as the infected cow was another step in that effort. The British government's big mistake, at the time of that epidemic, was to cover up facts and hide statistics. Official secrecy led to increased anxiety. Over the next few weeks, the U.S. Department of Agriculture, which has long claimed it is prepared for an outbreak of the disease, will be on trial. The competence of U.S. inspection and detection teams will be tested, and so will the department's ability to communicate with the public. The British lesson is clear: If more facts are revealed, consumers will feel safer, and the industry is less likely to suffer permanent damage.

'We Were Lucky About One Thing' Company Owner Says Meat All Went to Same Customer

There was homemade Christmas fudge in the room where butchers pull on their rubber boots. And just past a sign that said, "Beef. It's What's For Dinner," there were dozens of Christmas cards from longtime customers of Vern's Moses Lake Meats.

But every last drop of holiday cheer on this Christmas Eve had been drained out of this old one-story slaughterhouse on the southwestern edge of Moses Lake, a farm town in eastern Washington's semi-desert country. It was here that the first cow in the United States to test positive for mad cow disease was slaughtered two weeks ago.

"I have so much nervous energy I prefer to stand," said Tom Ellestad, who, with his older brother Larry, runs the meat company where the Holstein cow was slaughtered.

Pacing on the walkway in front of the faded red, concrete-block slaughterhouse that his father bought 33 years ago, Tom Ellestad said he learned less than 24 hours ago that the infected cow had been butchered here...

Meat Industry Feels Fallout; Groceries Offer Assurances

The economic fallout from the discovery of a single case of presumed mad cow disease in Washington state continued yesterday, as the shares of food-related companies tumbled, groceries and restaurants rushed to reassure anxious customers, and the beef export industry faced a ban on shipments.

At the Chicago Mercantile Exchange, trading in cattle futures locked up immediately after the market opened when prices fell as much as allowed in a single day. More declines are expected in trading tomorrow, and exchange spokesman John Holden said the market has expanded the allowable price drops, "hopefully to find a price at which they're willing to trade."

The price for 100 pounds of live cattle fell $1.50 yesterday on the Chicago exchange, to close at $90.85. The price will be allowed to fall an additional $3 on Friday and $5 on Monday.

The ban on U.S. beef imports by several countries sent a shudder through the meat industry. "It's not insignificant," said James H. Hodges, president of the American Meat Institute Foundation, during a media briefing. Last year about $3.6 billion in American beef was shipped overseas...

Inspection Practices Examined, Using Meat From 'Downers' Decried

When a cow or steer cannot walk to slaughter, it is called a "downer." Some have broken legs, while others may have been trampled in the railroad car on the way to the stockyards. Still others, however, are sick, and at least one -- slaughtered Dec. 9 in Washington state -- was infected with mad cow disease, according to the Department of Agriculture.

The case, the first reported in the United States, has triggered a reappraisal of the inspection procedures that the Department of Agriculture and the Food and Drug Administration use to regulate meat processing from the slaughterhouse to the rendering plants that transform an animal's last remains into meat and bone meal feed.

For years, consumer groups and some lawmakers have complained about the practice of slaughtering downers. This year, a provision in the Senate's Agriculture appropriations bill to ban the practice was removed from the final version of the legislation, which still awaits action by the Senate...

More countries halt US beef imports

China, South Africa and Colombia have joined at least 13 other nations, including the top two foreign markets for US beef, in banning imports from America after reporting its first suspected case of mad cow disease.

Japan, the world's biggest importer of US beef, announced a temporary ban less than three hours after US Agriculture Secretary Ann Veneman said initial tests had shown that a cow from the state of Washington may have the deadly brain-wasting disease.

South Korea and Mexico, the second and third biggest US markets, Australia, Russia, Brazil, Chile, Hong Kong, Malaysia, Peru, Singapore, Taiwan and Thailand have also suspended imports.

In Brussels, the European Union said that it had no plans to impose extra restrictions on imports of US beef to add to protective measures that were already in place.

Canada imposed a temporary ban on some US beef products after initially saying it would await the outcome of tests by a British laboratory before taking action.

It will still allow the import of products it defines as low-risk like cattle destined for immediate slaughter, boneless beef from cattle under 30 months of age, dairy products as well as semen, embryos and protein-free tallow.

The most important export markets are Japan, Mexico, Canada, South Korea, and Hong Kong...

Mad cow sends meat shares down

Stocks in meat-packing companies and restaurant chains fell quickly Wednesday as investors reacted to the first reported case of mad cow disease in the United States.

The response on Wall Street reflected concern over decisions by at least 11 countries to cut off U.S. beef imports, and the potential that the reports might turn consumers away from buying hamburgers and steak.

Several companies heavily reliant on beef consumption lost ground in the shortened day of trading Wednesday. McDonald's Corp. fell more than 5 percent to $23.96. Wendy's International was off nearly 5 percent at $37.79. Tyson Foods, which relies on beef for nearly half of its business, saw its shares drop nearly 8 percent to $12.90...

Gov't Trying to Trace Life of Diseased Cow

Federal officials scrambled Wednesday to trace the life of the first U.S. cow believed infected with mad cow disease (search) while trying to contain the growing economic damage from a now-suspect food supply.

Federal and state-level officials worked to trace the Holstein's history before it came to its last home, Sunny Dene Ranch (search) in Mabton, Wash., in 2001. Agriculture Department chief veterinarian Ron DeHaven said officials have identified two livestock markets in Washington where the animal could have been purchased, but he did not identify them.

Because the brain-wasting disease is usually transmitted through contaminated feed and has an incubation period of four to five years, it is "important to focus on the feed where she was born," DeHaven said...

US states hesitate to ban Washington beef

Anxious state agriculture officials in the western United States were Wednesday scrambling ward off the threat of mad-cow disease after the discovery of the country's first suspected case.

But states near the northwestern state of Washington, where the first suspected case was detected, were hesitating to ban cattle and beef from Washington, even as countries across the globe halted beef imports.

In Oregon, which shares its northern border with Washington, agriculture officials said they would consider a quarantine of cattle from Washington if the situation required it, but had no immediate plans for a ban.

"No quarantine has been imposed by Oregon at this time," Bruce Pokearney, spokesman for the Oregon Department of Agriculture, told Agence France-Presse.

Agriculture officials in Colorado first banned and then early Wednesday lifted the embargo on cattle from Washington state following the discovery of mad cow disease there.

But State Veterinarian Wayne Cunningham said Colorado would not permit any cattle feeds from Washington to enter Colorado until investigation proved that they were safe...

2 Wash. State Cos. Violated FDA Rules

Two firms in Washington state, where mad cow disease was apparently found in a cow, violated government regulations designed to prevent cattle from contracting the disease, records show.

The Food and Drug Administration said the violations were minor and posed no health risks, but an environmental group wants the agency to investigate whether those problems contributed to the infection of the Holstein cow.

An October 2002 inspection found that M&E Seed & Grain Co. of Prosser, a feed mill, violated FDA regulations that were enacted in 1997 to prevent mad cow disease, officially known as bovine spongiform encephalopathy, or BSE. Those rules lay out procedures to prevent mammal parts from being mixed into cattle feed.

Violations also were found at a second company, RTK Producers of Moses Lake, a trucking firm that handles animal feed, in June 2002, but a March 2003 follow-up inspection found no problems.

Both firms had only minor violations that could be easily corrected, such as missing paperwork, according to Dr. Stephen Sundlof, director of the FDA's Center for Veterinarian Medicine. The FDA records do not list the specific violations...

Tory call for checks on US-NHS blood

The discovery of BSE in a cow in the USA has raised questions over the safety of US blood products used in NHS hospitals, it has been claimed.

Since 1999, as part of the Government's drive to stop the spread of variant Creuzfeldt-Jakob disease (vCJD) - the human form of 'mad cow disease' - Britain has sourced all plasma for blood products from the USA, where BSE was unknown until this week.

Conservative health spokesman Andrew Lansley has called on the Food Standards Agency to make checks to ensure American blood remains safe...

Atkins Advisory on the Mad Cow Disease Situation

Atkins Nutritionals Inc. is confident that the U.S.D.A. will do its very best to protect the American food supply with its full resources, as it has always done.

As can be seen in the recipes featured throughout the Atkins Web site and in our many books, we encourage a wide range of protein sources, including poultry, fish and shellfish, pork, lamb, nuts, eggs, soy and cheese. Many of our followers have been succeeding on Atkins as a weight-control program and a lifestyle for many years without the inclusion of beef in their diets. In short, while beef can be a nutritious and satisfying part of the ANA, it is not essential to it. Consumers have a wider range of choices with Atkins.

The risk for humans contracting mad cow disease is extremely remote for a variety of reasons. We encourage all Americans to seek facts and resist sensationalist hype that is often encouraged by activist groups with their own particular bias. However, for those of you who remain concerned about the current situation, be assured that you can continue to enjoy the many health benefits of the Atkins lifestyle, thanks to a wide range of protein sources available...

USDA halts livestock risk insurance due to mad cow

The U.S. Agriculture Department said on Wednesday it would temporarily suspend livestock risk protection insurance due to volatile market conditions caused by the first U.S. case of mad cow disease.

The USDA said it would stop accepting applications for Specific Coverage Endorsements for Fed Cattle and Feeder Cattle under the federal Livestock Risk Protection Insurance Policy.

"It is expected that this (mad cow disease) discovery will have a significant effect on the price of cattle for the foreseeable future," the USDA said in a statement.

Producers that have already purchased insurance will continue to receive coverage, the USDA said. However, the USDA said ranchers would not be able to insure additional cattle until further notice...

Have Yourself A Merry Little Burger (Rush Limbaugh)

So don't eat your dog - or the spinal cord and brain of any potentially infected cow. Are we clear on that? Are we also clear, as one caller who said he had 30 years in the field pointed out, that your supply of vegetables is also at risk? Nobody stands up for the beef industry in this country. It's just assumed here that all beef is potentially tainted, even though we know very little about this disease and how or if it's transmitted to humans.

Eating meat is one of those politically incorrect behaviors that the mainstream press will use any excuse to jump all over. Plus, they love to scare you because it gets you watching. The safety features worked in Washington State - but they worked at Three Mile Island, too. That didn't stop the media from screaming, "Oh, what could have happened!" This country was not built by vegetarians, folks. I have no problem with those who simply don't eat meat, but I object to the militant, extreme nuts among you...

Laboratory Backlog Delayed USDA Test for Mad Cow

A tissue sample from a Washington state dairy cow sat in a federal laboratory for a week before it was tested and diagnosed as mad cow disease because of a backlog of samples, the U.S. Agriculture Department said on Wednesday.

Head USDA veterinarian Ron DeHaven said all brain samples from "downer" cattle -- animals too sick or injured to walk -- are sent to its federal laboratory in Ames, Iowa. The lab tested 20,526 head of cattle for mad cow disease last year.

The USDA defended the length of time it took to diagnose the disease.

"There was no delay here other than normal processing and the fact that we are testing tens of thousands of samples a year in that laboratory," DeHaven told reporters...