Where’s the Beef? USDA Opposes Voluntary Mad Cow Disease Testing!

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January 25th, 2009 Leave a comment Go to comments

In America, we’re used to growing government stupidity and arrogance. CPSIA has been looking more insane by the day. US mental health policies are causing destruction of families by making it virtually impossible for people with destructive mental illnesses such as Borderline Personality Disorder to be forced into treatment or their families to be legally protected against the harm that they cause. US family law courts reward perjury and routinely destroy children’s lives.

But who would have thought the US government would be intent on ensuring “equal opportunity death by mad cow disease” for all of us who dare to eat made-in-America beef?

While researching recent news on CPSIA, we came across a little-covered story regarding Creekstone Farms, a beef producer that sells its products inside the US and exports to other nations such as South Korea. Due in part to the outrage of South Koreans about unsafe US beef supplies and ongoing trade problems resulting in a ban on US beef, Creekstone Farms wanted to test 100% of its cattle for mad cow disease. They’ve been trying to make this happen since 2006. They figured it would reassure foreign consumers in particular that their US beef is safe and tested just as well as beef locally produced in their nations. Japanese beef is tested like this, and so is European beef. So it would be a competitive advantage for Creekstone Farms to be able to tell its customers and potential customers that it does the same type of testing on all of its cattle.

But such testing is outlawed for American beef. And the United States Department of Agriculture intends for it to stay that way. Creekstone has fought legal battles with USDA in federal courts since 2006 to enable it to continue its testing program. The USDA has been fighting to ban it every step of the way.

Let’s be clear, we are talking about a voluntary testing program that Creekstone Farms decided to undertake on its own using the same testing kits that the government uses. Creekstone is voluntarily spending its own money, and thereby voluntarily raising its own cost of production, to help ensure product safety and gain a competitive advantage. They figure a better tested product will be more appealing to consumers, even at a slightly increased price. How can that be illegal?

Rightly or wrongly, we could understand that the beef industry might oppose mandatory testing on all cattle as it would raise production costs when there have been few cows afflicted with Bovine Spongiform Encephalopathy found in the US. But apparently the USDA and beef industry have decided to fight to ban Creekstone’s testing because the beef producers fear that Creekstone having such a competitive advantage might result in other beef producers having to implement similar 100% testing programs. Their position is that randomly testing less than 1% of the cattle in the US is adequate, and no producer should be able to do its own testing to superior standards.

In the last installment of the battle in August 2008, Creekstone lost to the USDA by a 2-to-1 decision in the United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit. Chief Judge Sentelle issued a dissenting opinion to the majority decision of Circuit Judges Karen LeCraft Henderson and Judith W. Rogers who opted to ban the testing. In his opinion Chief Judge Sentelle concluded:

“It seems that the Department’s fear is that Creekstone’s use of the test kits would enable it to provide buyers with a false assurance that the cattle from which its beef is obtained are free of Bovine Spongiform Encephalopathy. However, as I read the record, all Creekstone hopes to do is assure foreign buyers that the beef is as well-tested as would be the case with beef produced in the home countries of those buyers. I will be interested in learning later whether this interdiction by the Department can survive the arbitrary and capricious test that will govern the district court’s review of that additional count.”

After reading about this testing ban, we think perhaps American consumers and foreign consumers should universally boycott US produced beef. We also can’t help but wonder if Judges Henderson and Rogers and USDA officials possibly ate a lot of US beef and are suffering from mad cow disease themselves. Nothing else seems to explain their ridiculous anti-safety and anti-competitive position on this matter.

Further reading:

U.S. to reduce mad cow testing by 90 percent

Feds fight broad testing for mad cow disease

USDA Opposition to Mad Cow Testing Is Anti-Consumer, Anti-Competitive; Tests Could Resolve Korea Beef Trade Dispute


Court: Beef Exporters Can’t Test for Mad Cow Disease

Update: unlawful to test for mad cow

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