R-Calf Blasts USDA’s Proposed BSE Rule


Billings, Mont. – Please attribute the following statement to R-CALF USA CEO Bill Bullard.

“We are deeply disappointed that the Obama Administration has chosen to follow the dangerous course first charted by the Bush Administration to systematically relax longstanding and essential disease protection standards at our borders.

 “Today the USDA (U.S. Department of Agriculture) announced a proposed rule that would relax current import restrictions for cattle and beef that originate in countries where bovine spongiform encephalopathy (BSE or mad cow disease) is known to exist. Specifically, USDA said the United States’ BSE-related import restrictions would be lifted for a number of countries, including the United Kingdom, Ireland, and the Netherlands. According to the World Organization for Animal Health (OIE) those three countries together detected 11 new cases of BSE-infected cattle in 2011.   

“Seventy-Six farm and consumer organizations, representing tens of millions of U.S. citizens, recently urged Secretary Vilsack to strengthen, not weaken, our already lax BSE policies by reversing the so-called Over-Thirty-Month rule, which allows Canadian cattle born during the time the BSE agent was known to be circulating in Canada’s feed system to be imported into the United States. 

“Secretary Vilsack has again ignored our concerns and is putting the self-interests of corporate meatpackers that want access to more meat supplies regardless of risk to humans and livestock, ahead of the health and safety concerns of U.S. citizens.

“The USDA is touting its proposed rule as a trade rule, claiming it will strengthen the United States’ negotiating position in trade agreements.  This is the same failed argument the Bush Administration used when it first relaxed our U.S. BSE policies in 2004, and the result of that failed argument is that many important export markets imposed long-lasting export restrictions on U.S. beef.

“USDA’s proposal amounts to a unilateral disarmament of essential disease protections for U.S. citizens and livestock.  It will disadvantage U.S. producers in the global market because other major beef exporters, including Brazil, Australia, and India continue to maintain adequate import standards while the U.S. relaxes its own. This will create unnecessary and avoidable anxieties among other beef consuming nations for U.S. beef.

“Exposing U.S. consumers and U.S. livestock to a heightened risk of BSE introduction is irresponsible and contrary to pledges made by the Obama Administration during his campaign.

“We urge every U.S. consumer and every livestock producers to rise up in opposition to the Obama Administration’s proposed rule to relax our essential protections against the introduction of mad cow disease.” 


Story by R-CALF USA


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