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From: Terry S. Singeltary Sr. (
Subject: New USDA Rule to Relax BSE Safeguards Unacceptable to U.S.
Date: January 2, 2005 at 5:10 pm PST

-------- Original Message --------
Subject: New USDA Rule to Relax BSE Safeguards Unacceptable to U.S. Cattle Industry; Consumers Should Vehemently Oppose Agency’s Action
Date: Sun, 2 Jan 2005 19:05:37 -0600
From: "Terry S. Singeltary Sr."
Reply-To: Bovine Spongiform Encephalopathy

##################### Bovine Spongiform Encephalopathy #####################

New USDA Rule to Relax BSE Safeguards Unacceptable to U.S. Cattle
Industry; Consumers Should Vehemently Oppose Agency’s Action

BILLINGS, MONT. (December 30, 2004) The United States Department of
Agriculture (USDA) on Wednesday announced that publication of the final
rule on reopening the U.S. border to live Canadian cattle is scheduled
for Tuesday, Jan. 4, 2005, and then on March 7, 2005, after a 60-day
review by Congress, live Canadian cattle and additional Canadian beef
could begin entering the United States. During the review period,
Congress has the opportunity to modify the rule, or refute it in whole.
The rule is titled: "Bovine Spongiform Encephalopathy: Minimal Risk
Regions and Importation of Commodities."

The new rule represents a wholesale abandonment of the United States’
historically successful, science-based standard of disease prevention in
favor of an unproven standard of disease management that has not been
accepted by U.S. export customers.

"As a result, the United States will become a dumping ground for
products unacceptable to more than 30 international beef-consuming
countries," said Leo McDonnell, president and founder of R-CALF USA.
"For USDA to force upon U.S. consumers the risk and burden of managing
another country’s BSE problem goes well beyond any reasonable obligation
that U.S. citizens should have to their foreign trade competitors."

"USDA’s failure to address in its Final Rule many legitimate and
scientific public-health concerns and risk analysis concerns raised by
U.S. cattle producers and U.S. consumers is unacceptable," said Bill
Bullard, R-CALF USA CEO. "USDA’s new rule sets a dangerous precedent, as
it exposes the U.S. cattle industry and U.S. consumers to increased,
unknown BSE risks, while simultaneously eroding international confidence
in U.S. beef."

The new rule is identical in key substantive regards to the first
proposed rule issued by the agency in November 2003.

"Rather than attempt to meaningfully address the concerns of R-CALF USA
and the other 3,378 individuals and organizations that submitted public
comments on the agency’s rule, USDA has spent the past 13 months and the
vast majority of the rule’s 316 pages rationalizing its actions, despite
genuine concerns raised by U.S. citizens and organizations," McDonnell said.

The new rule still offers as its scientific "risk assessment" a
qualitative judgment that the risk is "low," without explaining what,
specifically, this undefined term means, or whether Japan and other
countries use the same definition. The Final Rule still uses as a
primary basis and reference for this judgment a report by the Harvard
Center for Risk Analysis, a report that as its own authors recognize and
state, does not address issues specific to Canada that are the subject
of USDA’s final rulemaking.

"USDA continues to rely on a risk assessment that doesn’t even claim to
address the risk to human health of BSE-infected cattle or BSE-tainted
meat entering the U.S. from Canada," McDonnell explained.

There are numerous other unaddressed concerns. For example: R-CALF USA
expressed concern with the agency that because of relatively small
sample sizes in testing for BSE in Canada, the rule affords preferential
treatment to the Canadian cattle industry over the United States’ cattle
industry and subjects U.S. and international consumers to unknown and
unnecessary risk.

R-CALF USA pointed out that, at that time, the U.S. had tested 153,274
cattle for BSE in 2004, compared to Canada’s testing of only 15,817
cattle for the disease, despite the fact that BSE has been found only
among cattle of Canadian origin, and not among cattle of U.S. origin. In
its Final Rule, USDA rationalized the inequities regarding Canada’s
limited testing by stating if Canada tests 30,000 cattle for BSE next
year, Canada will then be testing at a rate equivalent to that of the
United States. But, the rule does not require Canada to test 30,000
cattle. Instead, the rule would require Canada to test no more than a
total of 336 cattle in 2005, thereby reducing even the current
protections afforded to the U.S. against introducing BSE into the U.S.
from Canada.

In four separate submissions of formal comments to USDA on the proposed
rule (totaling more than 350 pages), R-CALF USA informed the agency of
47 specific deficiencies in USDA’s rule. These deficiencies were
substantiated and supported by multiple scientific BSE-research studies,
all of which were completed after USDA began its rulemaking process.

"The agency has ignored all the new findings on BSE and has disregarded
all but one of our 47 concerns," Bullard noted. "The only deficiency
USDA addressed in the new rule was the inadequate marking system for
Canadian cattle, and as recommended by the U.S. cattle industry, the
agency did adopt a permanent brand as an option of marking Canadian

The new rule will cause the U.S. food supply to be flooded with products
produced in a country that does not even meet the minimal standards
imposed by the international disease standard-setting body, the World
Organization for Animal Health (OIE). Additionally under the Final Rule,
beef products on the shelves of U.S. merchants will not be required to
be produced under conditions that meet BSE standards established in
other countries where BSE is known to exist, such as the United Kingdom,
the European Union, and Japan. As a result, U.S. consumers will be
afforded less protection against BSE than are consumers in those
nations. In each of these BSE-affected countries, there are mandatory
testing requirements for cattle entering the human food supply, a
critical safety precaution that USDA does not require of Canada.

"What consumers should find most egregious is that not only will their
grocery store shelves contain imported meat produced under substandard
production requirements not even tolerated by other developed countries,
but also, consumers will not be given the information that would allow
them to avoid such substandard products," McDonnell pointed out. "The
rule does not require beef products derived from Canadian cattle to be
marked with a country-of-origin label showing the product(s) came from

"Rather than acknowledge the seriousness of Canada’s BSE problem, or
require Canada to correct the deficiencies that allowed BSE to infect
the Canadian cattle herd in the first place, USDA’s rule represents an
attempt to ‘define away’ Canada’s BSE risks and responsibilities," said

A key problem with USDA’s new rule is that it removes Canada from the
list of countries where BSE is known to exist, and when the rule is
implemented, Canada will no longer be included under the following
official heading contained in the federal regulations concerning BSE:
"Bovine spongiform encephalopathy exists in the following regions: . .
." There is no scientific justification for this regulatory change.

"This is a poorly written rule designed to deceive the public and to
mask the serious nature of Canada’s BSE problem, as well as to avoid the
United States’ international responsibility to help Canada eradicate the
disease from its herd so it can safely resume trade in beef and cattle
sometime in the future, McDonnell said. "There is no scientific
justification for the USDA making such a move."

"The agency has clearly demonstrated its resolve to ignore and disregard
the science-based concerns raised by industry participants and the
agency’s action threatens to devalue the U.S. cattle industry," he
continued. "This is unacceptable, and we intend to pursue every
available remedy to prevent USDA from implementing this Final Rule that
would diminish the quality of the imported meat supply in the United

# # #

R-CALF USA (Ranchers-Cattlemen Action Legal Fund, United Stockgrowers of
America) represents thousands of U.S. cattle producers on domestic and
international trade and marketing issues. R-CALF USA, a national,
non-profit organization, is dedicated to ensuring the continued
profitability and viability of the U.S. cattle industry. R-CALF USA’s
membership consists primarily of cow-calf operators, cattle
backgrounders, and feedlot owners. Its members – over 11,000 strong –
are located in 46 states, and the organization has over 60 local and
state association affiliates, from both cattle and farm organizations.
Various main street businesses are associate members of R-CALF USA. For
more information, visit
or, call 406-252-2516.


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