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Agricultural News

R- Calf Accuses USDA of Being Disingenuous in Animal ID Revamp

Tue, 18 May 2010 19:54:42 CDT

R- Calf Accuses USDA of Being Disingenuous in Animal ID Revamp R-CALF USA has formally asked Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack why the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) is deceiving U.S. livestock producers into believing they are partners in a national effort to protect their livestock herds from the introduction and spread of disease while simultaneously pursuing a reckless course of action that actually invites foreign animal diseases (FADs) into the United States. A letter has been sent to Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack, making accusations against USDA regarding Animal ID and demanding answers- Click here to read the full letter.

R-CALF USA has – since Vilsack’s Feb. 5, 2010, announcement that USDA would revise the National Animal Identification System (NAIS) and offer a new approach to achieving animal disease traceability – expended considerable resources to assist USDA in the development of a new animal disease traceability framework. Commensurate with Vilsack’s Feb. 5, 2010, announcement, USDA formally reaffirmed its congressional mandate to prevent the introduction of animal diseases into the U.S. by stating that, “Preventing and controlling animal disease is a cornerstone of protecting American animal agriculture.” (Emphasis added.)

“We believed our assistance would enable USDA to better achieve that congressional mandate,” wrote R-CALF USA President/Region VI Director Max Thornsberry, a Missouri veterinarian who also chairs the group’s animal health committee. “However, mounting evidence demonstrates that USDA’s intentions are disingenuous… (and the many examples of this) evidence further suggests that USDA’s real motive is to coerce unsuspecting U.S. livestock producers into assisting the agency in the development of a traceback system that USDA will later use in an attempt to mitigate and defend its reckless actions of continually inviting foreign animal diseases into the United States from disease-affected countries. This, Mr. Secretary, is outrageous, but there is no rational, alternative conclusion that can be deduced from the compelling evidence herein described.”

Thornsberry’s letter cites several specific examples of ongoing USDA policies that he said significantly and recklessly increases the risk for disease introduction into, and spread within, the United States. These examples range from: 1) allowing entry into the U.S. of Canadian cattle that are of the same age as, or older than, cattle detected in Canada with mad cow disease; 2) allowing entry into the U.S. of cattle from Mexico and Canada that are known to be introducing bovine tuberculosis into the United States; 3) proposing to lift foot-and-mouth disease (FMD) restrictions for Brazil, which is not a country free of FMD; 4) failing to delist Japan as a country declared free of FMD after Japan reported widespread FMD outbreaks; 5) and proposing to introduce the live FMD virus into the United States by relocating the Plum Island, N.Y., FMD research facility to Manhattan, Kan.

“Please explain why U.S. livestock producers should continue assisting your agency in making costly revisions to our historically successful animal disease control programs when evidence shows a primary purpose for such revisions is to facilitate the ongoing importation of high-risk livestock by enabling your agency to better trace diseases that USDA is deliberately allowing into the U.S. from disease-affected countries,” the letter continues.

“R-CALF USA desperately wants to work with you to increase the protection of our U.S. livestock herds from the introduction of and spread of animal diseases, but your agency’s actions indicate USDA is deliberately exacerbating the United States’ risk of animal disease exposure, which effectively disqualifies your agency as a legitimate partner to U.S. livestock producers,” the correspondence concludes.



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