USDA Announcement to Conclude BSE Investigation
Gary Weber, Ph.D., Executive Director Regulatory Affairs
National Cattlemen's Beef Association
February 9, 2004

"America's cattlemen applaud USDA, and especially the staff at USDA’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS), for conducting the BSE investigation in a very thorough, open and transparent manner. Many APHIS employees put in tireless and countless hours working in the field. More than 75,000 animals and 189 premises were investigated by USDA in their search.

"As expected, all 255 'animals of interest' found have tested negative for BSE. This includes 14 of the 25 ‘birth cohort’ – the animals born either one year before or one year after the index cow – deemed by international standards to be animals we should target. Though 11 of the 25 animals were not found, they represent a very low risk for BSE according to the USDA and the International Review Team.

"We are continuing our own analysis of the situation, and are evaluating the recommendations contributed by the International Review Team and other experts including government authorities, and the Harvard Center for Risk Analysis.

"The NCBA is actively pursuing the development of a national animal ID system, which will enhance our disease surveillance and traceback efforts in the future. NCBA is part of the U.S. Animal Identification Plan (USAIP) team, that along with other industry groups, government officials and members of the academic community, have been working on a plan for over two years. We are confident the USAIP will accomplish the goals of enhancing cattle health monitoring in the event of an animal health incident.

"With the investigation complete, we want to move forward, and we are confident we can resume trade with our international partners consistent with guidelines established by the Office of International Epizootics."

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