RCALF Says USDA BSE Rule Will Help Meatpackers Break Domestic Cattle MarketFri, 01 Nov 2013 15:37:09 CDT
Today the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) announced its plans to relax U.S. import restrictions for countries where bovine spongiform encephalopathy (BSE or mad cow disease) continues to persist.
"Despite the fact that BSE persists in the European Union (EU), which reported four new BSE cases in 2013, the new USDA rule opens the door to allow U.S. meatpackers to begin supplementing tight U.S. beef supplies with beef of questionable safety from Europe," said R-CALF USA CEO Bill Bullard.
Bullard continued: "USDA cannot explain why BSE persists in Europe despite the fact that all scientific measures that are believed to be effective at breaking the BSE cycle have been rigorously enforced in Europe for nearly two decades.
"If you believe what USDA is telling the public - that BSE is no longer a concern in European livestock because all steps necessary to control BSE are already in place, then it is impossible for Europe to be continually detecting new BSE cases. But this is exactly what Europe continues to do as it has detected 83 new cases of BSE just since 2010.
"This irresponsible action by USDA underscores the need for country of origin labeling (COOL), which is presently under attack by meatpackers and the National Cattlemen's Beef Association (NCBA) in the federal court system, by members of Congress in the 2013 Farm Bill, and by foreign countries at the World Trade Organization (WTO)."
According to Bullard, COOL would provide consumers the opportunity to better safeguard their families by enabling them to avoid meat products from countries that have not controlled BSE and that cannot explain why they continue to detect the pernicious disease in their livestock.
Bullard said the new BSE rule represents the abrogation of USDA's responsibility to protect U.S. consumers and the U.S. cattle herd from the introduction of foreign animal disease and it exemplifies how USDA is acquiescing to the unelected and un-appointed officials at the WTO who have no loyalties whatsoever to U.S. livestock producers or to U.S. consumers.
"USDA is working closely with the multinational meatpackers to open new import platforms so they can break the U.S. cattle market that has only recently reached profitable levels after being severely depressed for more than a decade. Cargill's recent announcement that it has partnered with an Australian exporter to import grain-fed and grass-fed beef in the U.S. will now be followed by announcements to further increase price-depressing imports from Europe, thanks to USDA," Bullard concluded.
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