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From: TSS ()
Subject: Lack of ID registry thwarts mad cow data hunt
Date: March 19, 2006 at 9:04 am PST

======================== COMMENTS ON TAHC PROPOSED RULES=============

George R. (Randy) Givens
Paige, TX 78659
February 6, 2006
Texas Animal Health Commission
Box 12966
Austin, TX 78711-2966
FAX: (512) 719-0721

Comments on Proposed Rules to Implement Premises Registration as Part of an
Animal Identification System in Texas
My comments contained in this letter are being submitted in response for
your request for comments from the public.
Department of Agriculture (USDA), have failed to include actual
representatives of the millions of Americans that this program will
adversely impact. Accordingly, since they have not been informed, they have
not been involved in preparing this proposal. Without their Informed
Consent, you intend on Taxing them with your Premises Registration Fees,
and the other costs mandated by the National Animal Identification System
(NAIS). (Even though you couch the costs on the citizen as a "fee," it is
undoubtedly a tax in bureaucrat's clothes.) Therefore, you plan on Taxing
these citizens Without Representation! The NAIS guidance at the USDA web
site includes a list of who has been involved in writing this program. The
short answer is that Industrial Agriculture has proposed and written the
NAIS - WITHOUT the informed consent of the millions of Americans the
program will ultimately impact. The NAIS website makes this crystal clear
when they provide recommendations on who should be included at the State
level. Glaringly absent are any recommendations to include Pet Owners,
Hobbyists, FFA/4H families, and Independent Farmers and Ranchers. The
families that own one or two horses, a few chickens, or a duck in a pond
have been totally omitted from the formulation of this system. Likewise,
your News Releases hide the fact that there will probably be far more
private citizens ultimately saddled with this system than the Agricultural
Industry participants, who are really behind this scheme.
It appears that the Proposal, which you foisted on the Legislature, was
less than forthcoming. At least one Texas State Representative, who has
responded to inquiries, said that he thought that he was voting on a
"voluntary" registration system, instead of the mandatory system you and
your Federal cohorts intend on imposing on us. Your proposal, which you
submitted to the Legislature, was misleading in that it did not fully
disclose that you were asking the Legislature to surrender the sovereignty
of the State of Texas to the unelected bureaucrats in the USDA and the
representatives of Industrial Agriculture who came up with this scheme. You
got the Legislature to approve a program which has not yet been written,
giving the USDA a blank check to impose their will on the citizens of Texas.

You failed to correct the record, even though you knew you had miscommunicated

I have had conversations with your Staff, Federal Staff, and Legislative
Staff, which clearly established that your Proposal would impact hundreds
of thousands of Texans. Since then, you have failed to clarify your
Proposal to the people of Texas, and the Legislature which represents them.
I can only take your failure to correct the record as clear evidence of an
intention to deceive the Legislature and the citizens of Texas. You should
be ashamed!

You have failed to communicate your ultimate intent to the hundreds of
thousands of Texans your proposal will impact. You have couched this
Proposal as impacting "Producers" and the Agricultural Industry. You have
failed to alert the people and the News Media that your Proposal will
actually affect anyone who owns ONE of ANY of the listed species. You have
been particularly negligent in informing the citizens of Texas that your
`wide net will include thousands of Pet Owners. You have couched your
public communications as if this is only an "agriculture" issue. You have
failed to tell the urban and suburban masses that you are also targeting
them. Your Proposal will affect Texans who are unaware that it will force
them to register their "premises," even if those premises are those of an
elderly Grandmother who keeps one Parakeet in her 20th floor condominium --
or her sister who ones a chicken, or a duck in her pond.

For example, your announcement of the Comment Period totally obfuscates the
truth that your Proposed Rules will impact the pet owner and hobbyists.
Note below how "homes" and "small farms/ranches" are totally left out of
your description of the program. While Grannys Parakeet and Aunt Susies
duck in the pond are technically included in your wording, the general
public is left totally unaware how your action will result in an enormous
intrusion on their lives and violate their Right to Privacy and Property

Fact Sheet from the Texas Animal Health Commission Premises Identification
Proposed Regulations

Basics of the National Animal Identification System (NAIS).
"Premises identification defines a geographic site, such as ranches, farms,
feedlots, livestock markets, slaughter establishments, rendering or carcass
collection points, veterinary clinics, livestock show, fair or exhibition
sites, quarantine facilities, laboratories, ports of entry, or any other
facilities where animals are handled. These include cattle, horses, mules,
asses, sheep, goats and hogs; exotic livestock; domestic fowl, such as
chickens, turkeys, and game birds; and poultry and exotic fowl."
In an interview with the Texas Farm Bureau, the head of TAHC clearly skirts
the impact on private citizens and other Texans who are not "producers."

In another interview, Dr. Hillman once more failed to disclose the impact
outside of Industrial Agriculture: "Hillman said that
the year the test will run will allow the industry to sort out
confidentiality and compatibility problems."

"Plain Language Requirements Ignored
Additionally, since you got the Legislature to say that your program must
conform to the Federal program, and you are taking Federal money to get the
program started, you also have to conform to Federal guidelines in writing,
publishing, and coordinating the program.The Federal Government has a
"Plain Language" requirement. Simply put, you must write clearly so that
all the citizens can understand both that which is stated in your program
and that which is implied in your program. Your public announcements do
more to hide the truth than to reveal it. You must rewrite the program and
all news releases and communications to the Legislature to fully
communicate your program, warts and all, to ALL Texans, and specifically to
everyone who will be saddled with complying with your program.

TAHC Must Improve It's Communications Style and Stop Lying With The Truth
In your letter, about the Certificate of Veterinary Inspection (CVI) fee
you admit that the 20 fold increase in the CVI will hurt FFA and 4H
students (the future of Texas Agriculture). Then, you have the gall to try
to avoid taking blame for that adverse impact by stating: "Under the
provisions of the rules, TAHC cannot provide price breaks for certificates
for 4-H or FFA participants."

While your statement may be True, it is also a Lie in that TAHC made up the
rules and has the authority to change those rules -- if it wants to. To
blame the "rules" for saddling kids with the CVI fee increase is a sorry
way to try to avoid taking the blame that rests squarely on the shoulders
of TAHC. Note also how TAHC says it hopes that Veterinarians will collect
the $5.00 for the CVI fee, but will donate their own time and effort to the
4H and FFA kids. Such comments are indicative of an attitude that forces
private businessmen to sacrifice in order to prop up an uncaring
bureaucracy. TAHC must change its organizational character to support
private citizens and businessmen, instead of weighing them down with more
rules and fees.

You Do Not Have Our Informed Consent for this Program.
You do not have the informed consent of the people of Texas to conduct this
program. You failed to tell the News Media, and the general public, of the
enormity of your scheme.

When closely examined, your own definitions disclose that you intend to
apply NAIS to every avian species under human control, as well as anyone
who happens to own even one hoofed animal:

"Animal" includes livestock, exotic livestock, domestic fowl, poultry and
exotic fowl.

"Livestock" includes cattle, horses, mules, asses, sheep, goats and hogs.
"Exotic livestock" means grass-eating or plant-eating, single-hooved or
cloven-hooved mammals that are not indigenous to this state and are known
as ungulates, including animals from the bovine, swine, horse, tapir,
rhinoceros, elephant, deer, and antelope families. "Exotic fowl" means any
avian species that is not indigenous to this state. The term includes ratites.

"Poultry" means domestic fowl, including chickens, turkeys, and game birds.
Clearly, you failed to clearly state that you are targeting Granny's
Parakeet, Aunt Susie's duck in the pond, the thousands of private citizens
who own only a few animals, and burying the small producer with onerous
record keeping and unjustified costs.

You Must Start Over, and Tell Us the Truth, The Whole Truth, and Nothing
But the Truth You must go back to square one, and clearly communicate your
proposal to the Legislature, the news media, and the public. If, by some
small chance, the Legislature then allows you to proceed, you must clearly
communicate the proposal, approved by the Legislature, to the citizens of
Texans. You must tell us, in no uncertain terms, using Plain English, who
your program will affect, both directly and indirectly. To support your
allegations, you must conduct a realistic Scoping Proposal and conduct a
realistic Cost and Cost Benefit Analysis of your project. To keep you
straight, all of these need to be thoroughly audited, by an independent
auditor, before submitting them to the Legislature and the people.

It has been reported to me that some of your TAHC leaders have admitted
that they know that the proposed rules will literally apply to thousands of
Texans who are not involved in Industrial Agriculture as "Producers."
Reportedly, TAHC has maintained that it "has no intent" of enforcing the
letter of the rule/law on those citizens, but does not want to have to deal
with the problem of making "exceptions to the rule." In other words, you
intend on instituting a rule (which has the effect of law) which applies to
hundreds of thousands of Texans, but then you will decide to enforce it on
just a few.
That is NOT the way to run a Government!!
Even though the task may not be easy, it is incumbent on you to write your
rules to apply only to those targeted by you and the NAIS. If you do not
intend to target Granny's Parakeet, or hobbyists, or pet owners, then you
MUST clearly exempt them from your rule. If you intend on writing your
rules to apply to those citizens, then you MUST inform them and allow them
to participate in drafting the rules. A last-minute, thoroughly disguised,
opportunity "to comment" is not acceptable.

Your attitude ignores a basic Rule of Bureaucracy: "If a rule is adopted,
and it allows an extreme measure, some bureaucrat will interpret and
enforce the extreme interpretation -- even if it was not the intent of the
Legislature or the Agency when the rule was adopted." If this is your
attitude, then please communicate it to the Legislature forthwith. I'm sure
those in charge of Sunset Legislation will be interested to hear your ideas
on how to run a government.


The USDA NAIS, on which your program is supposed to be based, is in
trouble. Privacy concerns have rightly stalled the program. " The agency's
NAIS coordinator, Neil Hammerchmidt, told last week's meeting of R-CALF USA
that there won't be a mandatory ID program by 2009, as previously
announced. And, he said, USDA attorneys are researching whether they have
the legal authority to require producers to report livestock movement to a
private entity. USDA lawyers are questioning if USDA has the authority to
demand that owners submit their private information to a database
maintained by a private organization."

Therefore, USDA will not have their database up and running by 2009, as
they had previously targeted. Since the Federal program is on shaky legal
grounds, so is the TAHC program. Why are you insisting that Texans be
subjected to a program that is obviously unconstitutional and illegal?

You have failed to clearly communicate the probable Financial Impact of
your proposal to the Legislature and the people of Texas. Your Cost
Estimating Record is Miserable
You have failed to communicate, to the citizens of Texas, the probable
Financial Impact of your proposal on them. The last time you asked for a
Fee Increase for your operations, it appears that you communicated to the
Legislature that you were increasing your fees from a quarter to about a
dollar. Instead, you increased your fees twenty times! You went from a
quarter to $5.00 -- for one blank form!!

To make matters worse, it appears that you told the Legislature the fee
might go from a quarter to $1.00, then turned around and jacked the fee up
to $5.00. Given your miserable track record, why in the world would you
expect us to believe that the your Registration fee will remain at $10.00
per year for very long? Since the NAIS proposal is far from final, the
$20.00 biennial fee you initially propose appears to be little more than a
"sucker bet." Your proposed $20.00 biennial fee will undoubtedly increase
sharply in a very few years, if the NAIS is to achieve its stated
objective. You propose to be able to "trace back," from one "diseased"
animal, to every animal which it may have contacted in its entire life. The
geometric progression, of the total number of possible animals, is
absolutely astounding! This is especially true when you include auction
barns, stock shows, small farmers, small ranchers, FFA, 4H, hobbyists, and
pet owners in the system.

The Hidden Cost of Implementing an Automated State System Has Not Been
Publicly Addressed
Your fee of $10.00 per year will probably not pay for your computerized
state system, causing the fees imposed on Texans to skyrocket once you try
and implement it.

The U.S. Government has a sad track record of trying to implement advanced
automation systems. Normally, their grandiose schemes fail as development,
fielding, implementation, and Life Cycle Costs of the system multiply many
times the initial estimates. Given the recent reaction of the Legislature
to your business practices, I have no doubt that you have failed to include
the probable real costs of this program in your fee estimates. You must
conduct a realistic cost estimate of your automation system. Then, you must
tell us the truth about the true costs of your program. However, you can
not do that until the USDA finalizes its NAIS, which is still under
development. Accordingly, you may not proceed until the NAIS is finalized
and approved by the courts.

The High Cost of Annual Exercises Will Roll Downhill You have failed to
disclose how the NAIS will impact at least some of our citizens every year.
On page 22, the NAIS Draft Strategic Plan (DSP) states:
"1. Annual test exercises Annual test exercises would be conducted to
determine how long it would take to complete the tracings compared to the
NAIS goal. These would be done to include most species and most States and
Tribes each year."

This means that some folks in EVERY state will be REQUIRED to participate
in a Test Exercise Every YEAR. That means that the Government may decide to
invade your property and inspect your animals JUST as a Test Exercise. Most
of the writings I have seen on NAIS, and the TAHC version, infers that the
system will only be used in case of a disease outbreak.
That is obviously not true. Based on my military experience, I know full
well that such exercises cost a lot of money. I doubt if TAHC has
programmed those funds and made sure that the $20.00 biennial fees will
cover such costs. I suggest that the Legislature require TAHC to provide
its cost estimates for this program. Then, the Legislature should have an
independent auditor examine those cost projections to verify if the
proposed rules, and implementation of NAIS in Texas, will be anywhere near
as "cheap" as TAHC implies.

You have failed to tell all the people of Texas that they will be subject
to fines ("administrative penalties") if they refuse to allow TAHC
Inspectors on their property or refuse those TAHC Inspectors access to any
of their animals. This gives even more credibility to the old adage,
"Ignorance of the Law is no excuse." How many Texans will be hauled before
a court, just so you can get the message across ... after you have snuck
this one by them? Your invitation to comments only gives us a reference to
part of the Texas Administrative Code. However, that only gives us the
maximum amount you can fine someone ... $1,000.00 a day. Please break this
down and tell us exactly how much the fine will be for which infractions.
Your "up to" nonsense fails to communicate the real truth to us.

Cost of marking animals
You have failed to publicly disclose the estimated cost to the citizens of
marking their animals. You infer that an animal will not have to have an
Animal Identification Number until it leaves the owners premises and,
theoretically, enters the Industrial Agriculture processing system. This is
simply not true for most Texans. ANY time an animal leaves the owner's
premises it will have to have an AIN. That means animals will have to have
an AIN for a trail ride, stock show, rodeo, parade, boarding, training off
premises or visit to the veterinarian. You have also failed to indicate the
cost of operators purchasing and maintaining equipment to read the Radio
Frequency Identifier Tags. That will most certainly be required at any
gathering of more than a few animals. For instance, nobody could operate a
stock show if they had to read and verify a tattoo on every horse's lip
that attended the event. To imply that anything other than a RFID will be
allowed is being far less than truthful.
How much will an RFID cost? How much will it cost per animal to mark it
with an RFID? Please don't talk about big herds/flocks -- how much more
will it cost the small operator/pet owner?

Recordkeeping and Reporting
How long will I have to keep the records you will force me to assemble?
Some diseases have long incubation periods, so how long is long enough? Can
I mail you my records and reports or do I have to buy a computer and pay
for an internet connection to transmit my records to you?
The Internal Revenue Service (IRS) has to tell taxpayers how much time the
IRS estimates it will take us to comply with their rules, record keeping
and filing requirements. Since this is, in essence, a Federal program,
please provide us with your accurate estimates of how much time we will
have to spend complying with your rules.

You have failed to tell all the people of Texas that the cost of their
chicken, beef, milk, eggs, and cheese will all have to increase to pay for
your program. You owe us an HONEST, verifiable estimate of how much this
program will affect prices in the grocery store.

Shifting the blame to the small farmer
You also failed to tell us how, in case of a food scare, this program could
be used by Industrial Agriculture to place the blame and liability down on
small producers. Those producers do not have the resources to defend
themselves against giant agribusiness corporations.

Promoting and protecting the small farmer Pushing the costs of this
program, and the additional liability of being accused in a food scare,
down on the small producer can only result in driving the small producer
out of business. Your proposal supports increased Vertical Integration of
American Agriculture under the flags of international corporations. We need
more small farms and more diversified, local production of agriculture.
Please tell us how you plan on supporting small producers instead of
burying them under oppressive costs and regulations.

You failed to tell the people of Texas what you will do with the
information, which we will be required to give you, in the case of a
disease outbreak. I'm sure the non-producers you are targeting have no idea
that your inspectors may one day bang on their door and demand that their
animal be slaughtered to control an outbreak of disease. I'm also sure you
will try and pooh-pooh this idea. However, the wholesale slaughter of all
sheep in parts of England , including healthy pets, happened just a few
years ago. Every day, on the evening news, we see birds/fowl being
slaughtered by the tens of thousands in efforts to control bird flu. To
you, the slaughter of animals in a given geographic area may seem just a
hard fact of disease control. Try it on the pets of Texans, and you may
find yourself with far more trouble than you ever wanted. I suggest you be
"up front" with our average citizens and tell them what you might do. I'm
sure they will be interested in that you have failed to communicate with
them so far.

The Supreme Court has ruled that owning property involves a "bundle" of
different property rights. Your plan takes several of those rights from me,
without any compensation. In fact, you require me to pay you for the
privilege of owning my own property. For instance, the Supreme Court has
ruled that I have the right to deny access to anyone I don't want on my
property. You are taking that right from me in your demands that I make my
animals and my premises open to your Inspectors. What else is it that you
are not telling me? How can you give me any assurances of the limits of
your demands, when you got the Legislature to agree that your plan must
agree with anything the USDA comes up with in the NAIS? This includes
violations of my Right to Privacy and my Right to Protection Against
Improper Search and Seizure. How far do you plan to go, just to placate
Industrial Agriculture? As the NAIS is not yet finalized, I have no idea
what new scheme is over the horizon.

The NAIS contains provisions for all our data to be included in a national
data bank, to be operated by a private contractor. Our business information
is our property, and we see a real threat to it in your program. Many
people are concerned that our information will become subject to Freedom of
Information Act requests, as a result of lawsuits by those who do not have
our best interests at heart. As we move further into the Information Age,
the risks of databases being used for other than the originally intended
purposes becomes more and more apparent. The recent push by the U.S.
Government to obtain our Internet Search Requests from Google are a great
example. What will keep the Internal Revenue Service, the Natural Resources
Conservation Service, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, the Environmental
Protection Agency, the Bureau of Land Management and other local, state and
federal government agencies from gaining access to our information? Please
do not try and placate us with "assurances" that our information will not
be stripped of your intentions to protect our privacy. We were assured that
our Social Security Numbers were to be used just for the Social Security
System. Now we can't hardly do anything without surrendering our Social
Security Number to someone. We need a realistic estimate of the risks of
our information being disclosed to others. Then, we need a Cost Benefit
Analysis to indicate whether the purported "benefits" outweigh the risks to
our privacy and our property. The blank check, handed to you by the
Legislature, is hereby null and void.
Thank you for the opportunity to comment on your program. I look forward to
your response.

s/ Randy Givens
George R. Givens
Paige, TX


Animal Identification and Meat Traceability

Among the steps announced on December 30, 2003, by the Secretary of

Agriculture was to “begin immediate implementation” of a national animal

identification (ID) system. Many producers already keep records on the identities of

each of their animals, primarily for herd management and marketing purposes.


92 USDA, The Secretary’s Foreign Animal and Poultry Disease Advisory Committee’s

Subcommittee Report on Measures Relating to Bovine Spongiform Encephalopathy (BSE)

in the United States, Feb. 4, 2004, at [],

p. 2. Earlier, the international team examining Canada’s BSE investigation also had

observed that the lack of a mandatory ID system prior to Canada’s adoption of one in 2001,

contributed to the need for “the extensive culling of animals.”

93 Reuters, “Beef-loving U.S. shrugs at finding second mad cow,” June 26, 2005.

Though animals often may be identified individually as part of an animal disease

program, no nationwide comprehensive U.S. animal ID system is in place.

Some observers have suggested that such a system, for example, would have

enabled USDA to find more of the cows imported from Canada with the December

2003 BSE cow. APHIS officials acknowledged that they had concluded their

investigation of the U.S. outbreak after positively identifying only 28 of the 80 cattle

that were imported with the BSE cow. “The limitations of the cattle identification

system necessitated a more extensive tracing exercise than would otherwise have

been necessary in order to identify the cattle to be culled in accordance with

international standards, thus enabling the identification of some animals only by

process of elimination,” the international panel of experts reported on February 4,


More recently, the Center for Science in the Public Interest (CSPI), a consumer

advocacy group, charged that lack of a cattle ID program initially had made it

difficult for USDA to find the herd of origin of what has become the first U.S.-born

cow to test positive for BSE (i.e., the November 2004 Texas cow). CSPI was among

those calling for faster implementation of an ID program.93

Interestingly, while the BSE issue has stimulated much of the current interest

in animal ID, it historically has been regarded as a tool for tracking mainly

contagious diseases — which BSE is not.

While most cattle and beef industry leaders appear to be supportive of an animal

ID program (most major industry groups are represented on the task force), some also

assert that animal ID should be viewed primarily as a potential tool in animal health

and food safety assurance programs — not as another BSE preventive measure itself.

Industry leaders also have pointed to a number of other policy issues that remain

unresolved, including how much such an animal ID program will cost; how much

government might contribute toward this cost; several questions regarding privacy

of industry data and legal liability; and whether animal ID could or should be used

for purposes besides animal disease management (also see Country of Origin

Labeling, below). A growing number of animal industry leaders appears to recognize

that a national system will have mandatory aspects to it.

For several years prior to the Secretary’s announcement, a government-industry

task force had been working to develop the framework for an ID system, aimed at

helping authorities to determine more rapidly the origin of an animal disease

outbreak and to contain it quickly. With the discovery of BSE, USDA attempted to

take the lead in development of a national program. On April 27, 2004, the Secretary


94 For updates on USDA’s animal ID activities, including information on its strategic plan

for an ID program, see [].

95 “Johanns Announces Key Component of Animal I.D. System.” August 30, 2005, press


announced what she called “the framework for implementation” of the national ID


On August 5, 2004, USDA said it was providing nearly $12 million for

cooperative agreements with states and tribal governments, to register premises (i.e.,

sites with animals), collect data, and test ID technologies. On June 21, 2005, USDA

announced that it was accepting applications to disburse another $14.3 million to

continue premises registration efforts. APHIS now projects that all states will have

the capability to register individual premises (but not yet animals) by this year, and

that individual animal numbers will also become available this year. But a national

system may not be fully in place and/or mandatory until 2009.94

Some argue that USDA, which has embarked on an all-farm species approach,

is progressing too slowly. The National Cattlemen’s Beef Association (NCBA), for

example, announced its intention to establish a privately operated system for cattle

and other species, that it has said could be fully operational for cattle by October

2006. Apparently responding to such producer concerns about the pace of

implementation and the need for private sector leadership, Secretary Johanns on

August 30, 2005, announced four “guiding principles” for a national ID system:

! It must be able to allow tracking of animals from point of origin to

processing within 48 hours without unnecessary burden to producers

and other stakeholders;

! Its architecture must be developed without unduly increasing the size

and role of government;

! It must be flexible enough to utilize existing technologies and

incorporate new identification technologies as they are developed;

! Animal movement data should be maintained in a private system

that can be readily accessed when necessary by state and federal

animal health authorities.

Focusing on the last point, Secretary Johanns stated: “We are eager to work

closely with industry as they develop and maintain databases that contain animal

movement information. After hearing the confidentiality concerns of producers, we

envision a system that allows these databases to feed a single, privately held

animal-tracking repository that we can access.”95

Not everyone endorsed this approach. R-CALF United Stockgrowers of

America, representing some cattle producers, issued an August 31, 2005, statement

noting its disappointment with the decision, and asserting that protecting U.S. animal

health has national security and public accountability dimensions that should not be

ceded to the private sector.


96 See CRS Report RL32012, Animal Identification and Meat Traceability, by Geoffrey S.


Conceptually, animal ID follows cattle from place of birth to the point of

slaughter. That is one segment of overall meat traceability, which extends further,

generally through the marketing chain to the final consumer. Some policymakers

have urged the adoption of this broader approach. For example, companion bills

offered in 2003 (S. 1202 and H.R. 3546) would have required USDA to establish a

traceability system for all stages of production, processing, and distribution of both

meat and poultry and their products, essentially from the birth of source animals to

the ultimate consumer. Other bills in the 108th Congress that would have required

some type of animal ID system included H.R. 3961; H.R. 3714; S. 2008; H.R. 3787;

S. 2070, and H.R. 3822.96

In the 109th Congress, several animal identification bills had been introduced

as of mid-September 2005, including H.R. 1254, the National Farm Animal

Identification and Records Act, H.R. 1256, to limit animal ID information disclosure,

and H.R. 3170, creating a private Livestock Identification Board to oversee the

program. The House Agriculture Committee held two hearings in September 2005

on the feasibility of establishing a privately-held system.

Country of Origin Labeling

U.S. law requires most imports, including many food items, to bear labels

informing the “ultimate purchaser” of their country of origin. Various raw

agricultural products have been exempt. The 2002 farm bill (P.L. 107-171) required

many retailers to provide, starting September 30, 2004, country-of-origin labeling

(COOL) on fresh fruits and vegetables, and unprocessed red meats, fish, and peanuts.

The conference report on the omnibus FY2004 appropriation, which included USDA

funding (H.Rept. 108-401; P.L. 108-199) delayed the effective date for mandatory

COOL for two years, until September 30, 2006 (except for fish; that portion is now

in effect).

However, debate over the pros and cons of COOL has continued into the 109th

Congress, where some Members continue to oppose the two-year delay, and others

are working to make COOL a voluntary, not mandatory program for industry.

Among the reasons that COOL is needed, according to supporters, is that consumers

have a right to know where their food is from, particularly in light of recent animal

health and food safety concerns such as the two BSE cases in Canadian-born cows.

COOL critics have countered that it is a thinly-disguised trade barrier intended to

increase the costs of imports, and that it undermines U.S. efforts to reform world

agricultural trade; moreover, they argue that, as designed, the mandatory program for

industry will be extremely expensive to maintain, and might hold them legally

accountable for inadvertent or minor mistakes in records.

Prior to enactment of mandatory COOL in 2002, industry leaders were seeking

from USDA a voluntary program for labeling beef of U.S. origin. Although such

labeling already is permitted so long as existing FSIS conditions are satisfied,

presumably a newer, more specific origin program would have been more attractive

to the industry.


97 7 CFR 205.237, National Organic Program. For further information, see [http://www.ams.].

98 M.W. Miller, et al., “Environmental Sources of Prion Transmission in Mule Deer,”

Emerging Infectious Diseases, June 2004, at [


Separately, after the May 2003 Canadian BSE discovery, Japanese officials said

they would require proof, effective September 30, 2003, that beef shipped from the

United States was of U.S. origin. Japan’s aim was to ensure that no products came

from Canada. Hoping to satisfy Japanese (and Korean) demands, the Department

unveiled in August 2003 a new “Beef Export Verification” (BEV) program as a

voluntary, user-fee funded service. Exporters desiring to sell beef to Japan (or any

other country that may request similar documentation) were to apply for BEV

certification from USDA after satisfying a list of requirements so that the agency

could verify that their beef is from cattle slaughtered in the United States. As noted,

BEV is considered voluntary, even though at the time it was widely viewed as a

minimum prerequisite for gaining access to the Japanese and perhaps other foreign

markets. After the December 23, 2003, announcement of a U.S. BSE cow, Japan was

among the first countries to halt imports of U.S. beef, clouding the future of BEV.

Bills offered earlier in 2005 (H.R. 384/S. 108) would prohibit the Canada rule

(see “Trade Restrictions”) unless mandatory COOL is implemented. Other pending

bills would make COOL voluntary for meats (H.R. 2068; S. 1333), and for meats and

other commodities (S. 1300). The House-passed USDA appropriation for FY2006

(H.R. 2744) would prohibit use of funds to implement COOL for meats. On the

other hand, S. 1331 would accelerate implementation for mandatory COOL to

January 30, 2006. (See CRS Report 97-508, Country-of-Origin Labeling for Foods,

by Geoffrey S. Becker.)

Beef Labeled “Organic”

A USDA program, the National Organic Program (NOP), prohibits the feeding

of “mammalian or poultry slaughter by-products to mammals or poultry,” if they are

to be labeled “organic.”97 Numerous news reports have suggested a safety benefit

from beef grown using organic or other alternative practices, now that there have

been domestic BSE cases. The NOP was developed to assure that labeling claims

reflect defined and verifiable production and handling practices. USDA endorses no

claims that organically produced food is safer or more nutritious than conventionally

produced food.


NOW, let us talk about who failed to tell whom what ;

Lack of ID registry thwarts mad cow data hunt


WASHINGTON - Investigators may never figure out where the Alabama cow with mad cow disease was born and raised, in part because the United States lacks a livestock tracking system that the Bush administration had promised two years ago.
After the first U.S. case of mad cow disease in December 2003, the government pledged to get a nationwide program into place quickly so officials could track cows, pigs and chickens from their birth to the dinner table. Today, however, the system is a long way off.

Alabama officials saw the need firsthand last week as they tried to determine where the infected cow came from.

The animal had no ear tags, tattoos or brands, and spent less than a year on the farm where she died. The trail seems to have gone cold at an auction where she was sold last year.

"We need an animal ID program in this country so it will help our industry and help our farmers when we have these kind of situations," the state's agriculture commissioner, Ron Sparks, said Friday in Montgomery, Ala.

Ideally, a cow such as the one in this case would be assigned a number that she would carry throughout her life. Farms, sale barns and feedlots would have unique numbers, too. Different technologies, including radio-frequency tags, retinal scans or even DNA of a cow's eye could help with the tracking.

The goal is to pinpoint a single animal's movements within 48 hours after mad cow or a different disease is discovered.

It is not an easy task in a country with 9 billion chickens, pigs and cows.

"We have a lot of protein being raised in this country," Agriculture Secretary Mike Johanns said last week. "It's something that we want to give the industry some time to adjust to and prepare for."

Johanns promised last May that the tracking system would be in place, run by the government and with mandatory participation, by 2009.

That date has not changed, though some details have.

Johanns said industry groups will be allowed to run the system - his department would have access to the data - and enrolling will be voluntary for producers, although Johanns added that it will be required for everyone someday.

While many ranchers and other producers are resistant to the idea, industry groups are moving forward with their own programs. For example, the National Cattlemen's Beef Association helped develop a system using Microsoft technology that is now being run by an independent group, the U.S. Animal ID Organization.

In Congress, some lawmakers are frustrated. Rep. Rosa DeLauro of Connecticut, the top Democrat on an important farm spending subcommittee, said the department seems to be making up the program on the go.

"When are we going to get real and put a system in place that will make a difference to the public health of this nation?" DeLauro asked a department official last week.

She and other critics question why producers would sign up if participation is not required.

May 4, 2004
Media Inquiries: 301-827-6242
Consumer Inquiries: 888-INFO-FDA

Statement on Texas Cow With Central Nervous System Symptoms
On Friday, April 30 th , the Food and Drug Administration learned that a cow with central nervous system symptoms had been killed and shipped to a processor for rendering into animal protein for use in animal feed.

FDA, which is responsible for the safety of animal feed, immediately began an investigation. On Friday and throughout the weekend, FDA investigators inspected the slaughterhouse, the rendering facility, the farm where the animal came from, and the processor that initially received the cow from the slaughterhouse.

FDA's investigation showed that the animal in question had already been rendered into "meat and bone meal" (a type of protein animal feed). Over the weekend FDA was able to track down all the implicated material. That material is being held by the firm, which is cooperating fully with FDA.

Cattle with central nervous system symptoms are of particular interest because cattle with bovine spongiform encephalopathy or BSE, also known as "mad cow disease," can exhibit such symptoms. In this case, there is no way now to test for BSE. But even if the cow had BSE, FDA's animal feed rule would prohibit the feeding of its rendered protein to other ruminant animals (e.g., cows, goats, sheep, bison).

FDA is sending a letter to the firm summarizing its findings and informing the firm that FDA will not object to use of this material in swine feed only. If it is not used in swine feed, this material will be destroyed. Pigs have been shown not to be susceptible to BSE. If the firm agrees to use the material for swine feed only, FDA will track the material all the way through the supply chain from the processor to the farm to ensure that the feed is properly monitored and used only as feed for pigs.

To protect the U.S. against BSE, FDA works to keep certain mammalian protein out of animal feed for cattle and other ruminant animals. FDA established its animal feed rule in 1997 after the BSE epidemic in the U.K. showed that the disease spreads by feeding infected ruminant protein to cattle.

Under the current regulation, the material from this Texas cow is not allowed in feed for cattle or other ruminant animals. FDA's action specifying that the material go only into swine feed means also that it will not be fed to poultry.

FDA is committed to protecting the U.S. from BSE and collaborates closely with the U.S. Department of Agriculture on all BSE issues. The animal feed rule provides crucial protection against the spread of BSE, but it is only one of several such firewalls. FDA will soon be improving the animal feed rule, to make this strong system even stronger.


the usda et al are hiding madcows (this well documented in Texas with the SSS policy strictly enforced), and an cjd cluster in Idaho of 6 suspect victims in a state with a population of 1.4 million. i would say johann et al are dazed and confused...

Texas SSS Policy
For Immediate Release--
Anthrax Confirmed in Sutton County, Texas

Anthrax Confirmed in Sutton County, Texas


Two ranches in Sutton County, Texas have laboratory-confirmed cases of anthrax in horses, deer and cattle, and laboratory results are pending for
several other sites in the county, where livestock and deer losses have been reported. Although this bacterial disease occurs almost yearly in this region of the state,
cases have not been confirmed within Sutton County for more than 20 years. Typically, outbreaks are in Val Verde, Edwards, Kinney and Uvalde counties, but on rare occasions, cases have been confirmed as far south as Starr County, reports Dr. Thurman Fancher, director of Area 6 (West Texas) for the Texas Animal Health Commission (TAHC).

“Anthrax is under-reported, because many ranchers in this area automatically dispose of carcasses and vaccinate livestock when they find dead animals that are bloated or bloody--common signs of the disease,” said Dr. Fancher. “Anthrax is a reportable disease, however, and it’s important to know when an outbreak occurs, so other ranchers can be notified to vaccinate.........


Aug. 13, 2005, 12:53AM

IN TEXAS, we feed our cattle ruminant protein, and lots of it. but remember (the fda cannot seem to get this right)

.1 gram is lethal;


January 30, 2001
Print Media:
Broadcast Media:
Consumer Inquiries:


Today the Food and Drug Administration announced the results of tests
taken on feed used at a Texas feedlot
that was suspected of containing meat and bone meal from other domestic
cattle -- a violation of FDA's 1997
prohibition on using ruminant material in feed for other ruminants.
Results indicate that a very low level of
prohibited material was found in the feed fed to cattle.

FDA has determined that each animal could have consumed, at most and in
total, five-and-one-half grams -
approximately a quarter ounce -- of prohibited material. These animals
weigh approximately 600 pounds.

It is important to note that the prohibited material was domestic in
origin (therefore not likely to contain infected
material because there is no evidence of BSE in U.S. cattle), fed at a
very low level, and fed only once. The
potential risk of BSE to such cattle is therefore exceedingly low, even
if the feed were contaminated.

According to Dr. Bernard Schwetz, FDA's Acting Principal Deputy
Commissioner, "The challenge to regulators
and industry is to keep this disease out of the United States. One
important defense is to prohibit the use of any
ruminant animal materials in feed for other ruminant animals. Combined
with other steps, like U.S. Department
of Agriculture's (USDA) ban on the importation of live ruminant animals
from affected countries, these steps
represent a series of protections, to keep American cattle free of BSE."

Despite this negligible risk, Purina Mills, Inc., is nonetheless
announcing that it is voluntarily purchasing all 1,222
of the animals held in Texas and mistakenly fed the animal feed
containing the prohibited material. Therefore,
meat from those animals will not enter the human food supply. FDA
believes any cattle that did not consume
feed containing the prohibited material are unaffected by this incident,
and should be handled in the beef supply
clearance process as usual.

FDA believes that Purina Mills has behaved responsibly by first
reporting the human error that resulted in the
misformulation of the animal feed supplement and then by working closely
with State and Federal authorities.

This episode indicates that the multi-layered safeguard system put into
place is essential for protecting the food
supply and that continued vigilance needs to be taken, by all concerned,
to ensure these rules are followed

FDA will continue working with USDA as well as State and local officials
to ensure that companies and
individuals comply with all laws and regulations designed to protect the
U.S. food supply.

From: TSS (
Date: January 27, 2005 at 7:03 am PST

Risk of oral infection with bovine spongiform encephalopathy agent in primates

Corinne Ida Lasmézas, Emmanuel Comoy, Stephen Hawkins, Christian Herzog, Franck Mouthon, Timm Konold, Frédéric Auvré, Evelyne Correia, Nathalie Lescoutra-Etchegaray, Nicole Salès, Gerald Wells, Paul Brown, Jean-Philippe Deslys
Summary The uncertain extent of human exposure to bovine spongiform encephalopathy (BSE)--which can lead to variant Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease (vCJD)--is compounded by incomplete knowledge about the efficiency of oral infection and the magnitude of any bovine-to-human biological barrier to transmission. We therefore investigated oral transmission of BSE to non-human primates. We gave two macaques a 5 g oral dose of brain homogenate from a BSE-infected cow. One macaque developed vCJD-like neurological disease 60 months after exposure, whereas the other remained free of disease at 76 months. On the basis of these findings and data from other studies, we made a preliminary estimate of the food exposure risk for man, which provides additional assurance that existing public health measures can prevent transmission of BSE to man.

Published online January 27, 2005

It is clear that the designing scientists must

also have shared Mr Bradley’s surprise at the results because all the dose

levels right down to 1 gram triggered infection.


6. It also appears to me that Mr Bradley’s answer (that it would take less than say 100

grams) was probably given with the benefit of hindsight; particularly if one

considers that later in the same answer Mr Bradley expresses his surprise that it

could take as little of 1 gram of brain to cause BSE by the oral route within the

same species. This information did not become available until the "attack rate"

experiment had been completed in 1995/96. This was a titration experiment

designed to ascertain the infective dose. A range of dosages was used to ensure

that the actual result was within both a lower and an upper limit within the study

and the designing scientists would not have expected all the dose levels to trigger

infection. The dose ranges chosen by the most informed scientists at that time

ranged from 1 gram to three times one hundred grams. It is clear that the designing

scientists must have also shared Mr Bradley’s surprise at the results because all the

dose levels right down to 1 gram triggered infection.

Re: BSE .1 GRAM LETHAL NEW STUDY SAYS via W.H.O. Dr Maura Ricketts

[BBC radio 4 FARM news]

2) Infectious dose:

To cattle: 1 gram of infected brain material (by oral ingestion)


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