Markets and Trading Partners Shrug Off BSE News


On April 24, 2012, the USDA announced the detection of an “atypical” case of BSE in Central California. The infected dairy cow was found at a rendering plant and its beef was destined for pet food and not human consumption.

The cattle markets on Tuesday closed sharply lower on fears the announcment would hurt beef demand.

Despite the intial negative knee jerk reaction, the cattle market has bounced back to its feet on assurances from key trading partners like Canada, Mexico and Korea that imports of U.S. beef will continue.

Industry reaction has also been postive with several Ag organization’s reiterating that the U.S. beef cattle industry has worked hard to implement the proper safeguards and firewalls to maintain a safe beef supply for consumers.

U.S. Meat Export Federation

“The most important message is that U.S. beef is safe,” said Philip Seng, U.S. Meat Export Federation (USMEF) president and CEO. “We are already reaching out to our trade contacts around the world to reassure them that this finding is an indication that the system to safeguard the wholesomeness and safety of U.S. beef is working. The U.S. Government is providing this same information through its channels to all of our trading partners.”

The Northern Ag Network’s Haylie Shipp talked with Joe Shuele at USMEF about the reaction from key trading partners.


The United States maintains a vigilant system of interlocking safeguards to protect human and animal health against BSE. Those include the removal of all specified risk materials (SRMs) during processing, USDA’s ban on any use of SRMs in both human or animal food, and constant monitoring of livestock to ensure that no higher-risk non-ambulatory (or “downer”) animals are processed for consumption.

American Farm Bureau Federation

“American beef and dairy products are safe. The safeguards our government has in place to detect any incidence of this disease are clearly working. The report of a cow with bovine spongiform encephalopathy, discovered during the pre-rendering process, is proof that our detection system works.

“Government officials have confirmed that the animal in question was a dairy cow from California. This animal did not enter the food chain. Scientists say the animal displayed an atypical case of BSE, meaning it is a rare form not generally associated with feed consumption. USDA scientists said they remain confident in the health of the national herd and the safety of beef and dairy products.

The Northern Ag Network’s Russell Nemetz talked with Montana Farm Bureau Federation President Bob Hanson about this “atypical” case.


“We are pleased to hear that the Agriculture Department is conducting a comprehensive and immediate investigation into additional details surrounding this case.”

National Cattlemen’s Beef Association

“USDA has confirmed a positive test result as part of its targeted surveillance program to test cattle for BSE. USDA has confirmed this dairy animal was discovered at a rendering facility and was never presented for human consumption and poses zero risk to human health. The bottom line remains the same – all U.S. beef is safe.

The Northern Ag Network’s Russell Nemetz talked with NCBA Animal Health and Well-Being Committee Tom Talbot after the announcment.


“America’s cattle producers’ top priority is raising healthy cattle. As such, the U.S. beef community has collaborated with and worked with animal health experts and government to put in place multiple interlocking safeguards over the past two decades to prevent BSE from taking hold in the United States. This effort was recognized in May 2007 when the World Organization for Animal Health (OIE), the leading international body for animal health, formally classified the United States as a controlled risk country for BSE. The controlled risk classification recognizes that U.S. regulatory controls are effective and that U.S fresh beef and beef products from cattle of all ages are safe and can be safely traded due to our interlocking safeguards.

“USDA’s ongoing BSE surveillance program tests approximately 40,000 high-risk cattle annually, bringing the total of tested animals to more than 1 million since the program began. BSE is fast approaching eradication worldwide. According to USDA, there were only 29 cases of BSE worldwide in 2011, which is a 99 percent reduction since the peak in 1992 of more than 37,300 cases.

“We commend USDA and animal health experts for effectively identifying and eliminating the potential risks associated with BSE.”

U.S. Cattlemen’s Association

Jon Wooster, President of the U.S. Cattlemen’s Association, says that he doesn’t think the BSE finding was completely unsuspected because of the surveillance that the USDA has been doing.  If there is any good news coming out of this, he said that it is another atypical case.  This means that the feed bans are working.

The Northern Ag Network’s Haylie Shipp spoke with Wooster about the lack of panic from the industry about the announcement which included a higher futures market the day after.


Wooster says that he doesn’t think it’s out of the question that we may see another atypical case.  It’s his hop that if that does happen, that the futures markets will react even more calmly than they did this time.  Bottom line is that the product is safe, the testing is there, and the USDA is doing the job that it should be doing.

Facts about BSE

Bovine Spongiform Encephalopathy (BSE), commonly called “mad cow disease,” is a degenerative neurological disease of cattle that is caused by misfolded proteins (called prions) that build up in the central nervous system (CNS) and eventually kill nerve cells.

BSE is spread through certain cattle feed ingredients, which have been banned since 1997.

News Outlets around the world have reported on the fourth case of BSE in the United States including CBS News.

To learn more about BSE, Click Here.

Posted by Northern Ag Network

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