BSE-positive Dairy Cow in Washington State
Terry Stokes, Chief Executive Officer, National Cattlemen's Beef Association
December 26, 2003

(Statement from the third NCBA Media Teleconference on the BSE-positive Dairy Cow in Washington State.)

The U.S. beef industry has worked tirelessly to put effective preventive measures into place to protect our animals’ health and the health of our consumers, including an import ban, a surveillance program and a feed ban. 

As an industry, we expect strict adherence to these measures. We applaud USDA’s efforts to evaluate these systems to ensure animal and public health, and the beef industry will be active participants in this evaluation as the investigation continues and new information comes to light.  

The National Cattlemen’s Beef Association has been an active participant in the Department of Agriculture’s task force on animal identification.  As USDA Chief Veterinarian DeHaven acknowledged today, this national system will encompass hundreds of millions of U.S. livestock.  While an animal identification system in this specific situation would help with the trace-forward investigation, it would be less helpful in the trace-back investigation, much like it was in the Canadian case, due to the age of the index cow.  That said, we are encouraging a stepped-up timeline for creation and implementation of this system.

The National Cattlemen’s Beef Association also supports the increased level of testing as part of the Department’s BSE surveillance program.  As an additional precaution, we are requesting USDA put into place a “test and hold” procedure that would require any animal tested for BSE to be held and not further processed until test results are received.  While specified risk material from non-ambulatory animals are removed from the human food supply and meat does not carry the infective agent, this precautionary measure would give consumers additional confidence in the safety of the food supply.

Finally, on the matter of trade, the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association is requesting this Administration put the matter of re-establishment of trade for U.S. beef exports as its top priority on the nation’s trade agenda. 

I would like to say how proud we are of everyone who has worked so diligently over the holidays to confirm this test and to determine the origins of this cow. We will continue to work with our partners and push for any and all actions based on science that will allow us to continue to say with confidence that U.S. beef is safe and wholesome for consumers.

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