Missouri cattlemen in cow-tag program hit hard by beef ban
BY CHERYL WITTENAUER THE ASSOCIATED PRESS
Posted on Wednesday, January 25, 2006
BOWLING GREEN, Mo. — Missouri cattlemen who volunteered for a one-of-a-kind tagging program were especially stung when Japan closed its borders to U. S. beef again on Friday.
In October, Missouri became the first and only state to develop and implement the program that identifies the source and age of its feeder cattle. The claims are verified by the U. S. Department of Agriculture.
That was crucial to the Japanese, who would not buy beef from an animal older than 20 months over concerns that age increases the potential for mad cow disease.
With 70, 000 beef producers, Missouri is second only to Texas in the number of calf-producing cows. Those numbers, along with participation in the USDA-run program, positioned Missouri to be a bigger supplier of live cattle for beef export, said Missouri cattle rancher Mike John, presidentelect of the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association.
John said Friday he was “very disappointed” that Japan shut down the market to U. S. beef. “It’s tragic that these things have to happen. The world works on perception and these things tend to have a ripple effect.”
How pure is the U.S. beef supply, really?
How safe is our food supply from mad cow disease and what is the U.S. government doing to protect consumers? Phil Lempert shares the latest
By Phil Lempert
“Today” Food Editor
Updated: 5:42 p.m. ET Jan. 24, 2006
It has long been argued in this space that the approach taken by the U.S. government in dealing with bovine spongiform encephalopathy (BSE) — better known as mad cow disease — has been lackadaisical and insufficient to guarantee the integrity of the meat supply and the safety of American consumers. We have long pointed to the Japanese model — test every cow, now matter what — as the only legitimate approach that can be employed to deal with the mad cow threat.
Government officials, however, have disputed this assertion, claiming that everything was fine, the safety net was pulled tight enough, and that there is nothing to worry about.
BSE in Canadian cow sets back effort to regain lost markets
1/24/2006- Another cow with bovine spongiform encephalopathy (BSE) has been found in Canada, a second blow against the US’ recent success at regaining its international markets. Since the closing of many countries to US beef exports in December 2003, the country had managed to recover access to 82 per cent of its former markets, originally worth about $3.9 billion.
But last week Japan again cut off US beef exports after the country’s agriculture ministry said inspectors found banned cattle backbone material in three of 41 boxes in a shipment.
Japan, the largest market for US beef exports, had only resumed imports from the US last month after a ban was imposed in May 2003. The finding of banned cattle parts violated the bilateral agreement with the US meant to keep BSE out of Japan.
With the confirmation yesterday that Canada had found BSE in another cow, other foreign buyers will now be questioning whether the US has safe beef.
US and Canadian officials are trying to downplay the finding. The Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) said the discovery of BSE in a six-year-old cross-bred cow born and raised in Alberta was “not unexpected”.
No part of the animal entered the human food or animal feed systems, the CFIA stated. The inspectors noted that the case was discovered though the country’s national surveillance programme, which targets cattle at highest risk of being infected with BSE. The programme has tested more than 87,000 animals since Canada’s first BSE case in 2003.
“This detection is consistent with a low level of disease and does not indicate an increased risk of BSE in Canada,” the CFIA stated. “Based on the guidelines and certification recommendations of the World Organisation for Animal Health, this finding should not affect Canada’s ability to export live animals, beef and beef products.”
Meanwhile US agriculture secretary Mike Johanns said he anticipates no change in the status of beef or live cattle imports to the US from Canada due to the new case.
“I am confident in the safety of beef and in the safeguards we and our approved beef trading partners have in place to protect our food supply,” he stated. “We will continue to adhere to international guidelines in our relationships with all trading partners, and my hope continues to be that we achieve a system of science-based global beef trade.”
Japan, Korea and others prohibited imports of US beef and beef products following the detection in 2003 of BSE in a single cow of Canadian origin in Washington State.
Japan was the largest importer of US beef prior to 2003, buying up $1.4 billion worth of the meat a year.
The US this month also reported reaching agreement with South Korea to resume exports later this year. Korea was the US’ third largest market for beef exports.
In 2003, before the ban took effect, the US exported $815 million worth of beef and beef products to Korea, of which $449 million was boneless beef.
Thailand, China, Taiwan and Singapore still have bans on US beef.
A study released last April by the Kansas Agriculture Department estimates the industry lost up to $4.7 billion last year because of the mad cow case in Washington.
Scientists believe eating the BSE infected beef is the cause of the human variant, Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease, a fatal brain disorder that led to the death of about 150 people, mostly in the UK in the 1990s.
No sign other countries will ban US beef-USDA’s Johanns
WASHINGTON, Jan 25 (Reuters) – There are no signs other countries are considering closing their borders to U.S. beef following the discovery of forbidden spinal material in veal sent to Japan, Agriculture Secretary Mike Johanns said Wednesday.
“We haven’t had an indication from any country yet that they would follow the action of Japan,” Johanns told reporters.
Tokyo suspended trade five days ago after its inspectors found the material in a shipment of U.S. veal. Japan requires removal from all U.S. beef the brains, spinal columns and other nervous tissue most at risk of carrying the infective agent for mad cow disease. The United States says the materials pose no threat in the younger animals used in trade with Japan.
US welcomes end to Taiwan beef ban
WASHINGTON (AFP) – US Agriculture Secretary Mike Johanns welcomed news that Taiwan is lifting a ban on imports of US beef imposed to keep out mad cow disease.
“I’m extremely pleased with Taiwan’s resumption of trade in US beef,” Johanns said in a statement. “This advances our goal to resume normal beef trade throughout the world that follows science-based international guidelines in food and animal safety,” he said. Taiwan said it would allow the resumption of shipments of boneless US beef taken from cattle aged under 30 months, which are considered to be safe from bovine spongiform encephalopathy (BSE).
Taiwan reopened its market to US beef in April after a two-year ban but closed it again in June following the confirmation of a second case of BSE in a US cow.
In 2003, the United States exported more than 76 million dollars’ worth of beef to Taiwan.
A number of Asian countries have in recent weeks lifted bans on US beef. But Japan last week re-imposed its ban after the discovery of banned spinal material in a shipment of veal from New York..