Wednesday, April 14, 2004

Full Text of Creekstone Response to USDA

TO: Undersecretary J.B. PennUnited States Department of
Agriculture Undersecretary Bill HawksUnited States Department of Agriculture Chief of Staff Dale MooreUnited States Department of Agriculture

CC: Secretary Ann Veneman Secretary of Agriculture United States
Department of Agriculture

FROM: John Stewart, C.E.O.Creekstone Farms Premium Beef Bill Fielding,
C.O.O.Creekstone Farms Premium Beef


On behalf of Creekstone Farms I want to thank you for the opportunity to have met with you in Washington, D.C. last Thursday, April 8.

We had hoped for a different outcome to the meeting, however, and are very disappointed with USDA's decision not to allow Creekstone Farms to voluntarily test all of the cattle we process for bovine spongiform encephalopathy (BSE).

As we have discussed in the various meetings held with the USDA over the past several weeks, BSE testing of our cattle is something our export customers and consumers are asking for, and we feel we should be able to provide it to them.

Creekstone Farms will challenge the USDA's decision, and are currently analyzing our legal options. We are challenging USDA's authority to control the sales of BSE diagnostic tests in the United States and your decision to prohibit companies like Creekstone Farms from conducting 100 pecent testing of young animals that would meet our customers' needs and requirements. We are hopeful there will be a resolution to the current U.S. beef trade embargo with Japan.

It is imperative to companies such as ours that trade be resumed. However, we understand the position of our Japanese customers, consumers and their government, as well as the challenges their staunch positions represent. They are requesting 100 percent testing of all beef bound for their market as the precursor to the resumption of trade.

The USDA's current plan to test only older U.S. cattle for BSE will not meet this requirement.

On Monday, Japanese Vice Agriculture Minister Mamoru Ishihara announced that the "U.S. government's decision not to accept [Creekstone's] offer is, frankly speaking, regrettable."

Creesktone Farms has received a tremendous amount of support during the past few weeks for our proposal to test all of our cattle for BSE. We will continue to work with our senators and congressmen, as well as industry experts, to help find a solution to this recent USDA decision.

Please understand our situation as well as our consternation over why the USDA will not embrace our plan. Creekstone Farms plans to test more cattle than the USDA, at a lower cost. If our plan were to be implemented, we would test over 300,000 head of cattle over the course of a year, versus the USDA proposed cattle population of approximately 220,000 head.

As well, the USDA is planning on spending a minimum of $72 million of taxpayer money to conduct these tests. The Creekstone Farms' plan will cost less than $6 million using the identical test kit, and our customers are willing to pay for the cost of the testing.

We ask that the USDA reverse its decision of last week and allow Creekstone Farms to test our beef for BSE.

In addition, Creekstone Farms is asking for USDA approval of the following secondary options:

1) Expand the USDA's surveillance program to involve 1 million head of young animals.
2) Approve the procedure whereby Creekstone Farms is allowed to ship brain stem samples to Japan for BSE testing in their laboratories.
3) Approve Kansas State University as an official USDA laboratory with direction to establish Creekstone Farms as a satellite laboratory.
4) Approve the purchase of young Canadian cattle that would be BSE tested at our processing plant in Arkansas City, Kansas.
5) Approve labeling domestic product BSE tested due to increased consumer concern in the U.S.

This letter is also giving notice to the USDA that our loss in revenue is a minimum of $200,000 per day. We will continue to track this loss on a daily basis to determine damages.

Additionally, we have nine important questions that we would appreciate having USDA address and respond to immediately.

Please be advised we will be sharing this with the media.

Sincerely, John D. StewartC.E.O. Bill FieldingC.O.O. Creekstone Farms Premium Beef, LLC


1. What legal grounds (policies/regulations) would prohibit a private industry from performing a Rapid Test method for BSE? If testing young cattle is not a food safety issue, does it fall under APHIS or FDA?
2. Why does the Federal Register prohibit saving of small intestine unless the animal is BSE tested?
3. You have stated that BSE does not occur in cattle under 30 months of age. Why have you prohibited all specified risk materials (SRMS) from all age groups of cattle processed? What is the science behind this decision?
4. How does USDA certify and approve domestic and international sales/production of natural or organic beef products? This would be an implied Consumer Safety Aspect that is not scientifically warranted. You have stated that BSE testing is an "Implied Food Safety Aspect that is not scientifically justified". How does this differ from natural or organic products? If testing is approved, why can't a label state "BSE tested"?
5. How can the USDA justify spending $72,000,000 in taxpayer funds to test 221,000 head of cattle in 12 months ($325/head), when a private company will use the same test method as APHIS to test 300,000 head for $5,400,000 paid for by consumers in 12 months ($18/head)? Also, this private company can fully implement testing in one week, why will it take APHIS five months to fully implement their program? Complete preparation and training took Creekstone Farms one month.
6. Why is the USDA not immediately allowing Canadian cattle under 30 months of age to be sold into the US? If there is any concern, could Creekstone test Canadian cattle?
7. Given the USDA position that BSE testing is not scientifically justified what exactly are the statistical odds and how do you rationalize not giving the people a choice? There have been young cattle (under 30 months) in Japan and England testing positive for BSE.
8. What will be the government's position if a major domestic customer requires packers to do something BSE-related that is not scientifically justified? Will the packer be told he cannot do it?
9. What is the statistical rate of error determining cattle age using dentition?

Shae Dodson
Dodson Ag News Service
P.O. Box 82
Fort Morgan, CO 80701
Phone: 970-867-1834
Fax: 970-867-1237

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