Click on text below to see the vid

Test EVERY Cow in the Food Chain

Test EVERY Cow in the Food Chain
Like Other Countries Do

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Heifer International: Give a Gift of Cow?

Click on title above to go to "Heifer International" website, where you can see they won the "Hilton Humanitarian" is interesting to note that Hilton Corporation is a "Welfare Rancher" in the USA

Monday, December 21, 2009

Gov 2 Giv Big-Ag a hand - Will Create Shortage to Strengthen Demand

From the website of the National Association of State Departments of Agriculture:

Washington, DC - The National Association of State Departments of Agriculture (NASDA) this week released a proposal to address the critical economic situation of American dairy, pork, and poultry producers, while simultaneously providing much-needed nutritional assistance to Americans facing hunger due to job loss and other economic hardships.

People whose careers involve creating, fattening, transporting and slaughtering sentient nonhumans whose parts and secretions will then be used as food are having some financial difficulties.

Along with the rest of the country.

To "help these industries survive this economic downturn and gain a solid footing for the future," NASDA is proposing a "bold solution: a plan to take extra inventories off the market to reduce supply, all while providing vital nutritious, protein-rich foods to those who are unable to afford them, which is in more demand now than ever before."

Translation? First let's deconstruct:

The recession has caused a decrease in demand for animal products. I say stop right there, as Michael Pollan, Mark Bittman and Jonathan Safron Foer could be behind the decrease. We don't really know. We do know that a feature of a recession is that all sectors are affected in the same direction, and I don't see anyone proposing a bold solution for writers or editors.
What if consumers have genuinely been paying attention and have realized that animal products aren't that healthy, are an environmental disaster (the way most are produced) and not sustainable and are a blatant, direct signs of the largest and longest injustice in human history? What if Meatless Mondays and all of the messages about decreasing consumption of animal products have made a difference and consumers have spoken? What if this has nothing to do with the recession or less than one might think (nothing's a tough sell)? Why the rescue plan? The market has spoken; this is supposed to be capitalism, not corporate socialism.
But all of that aside, the bold solution is: Americans who participate in the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) would be the targeted consumers of the surplus (in addition to military food assistance programs in places like Afghanistan).

"By removing these excess products off the market, and placing them into food assistance programs, we will quickly stabilize the prices for these products, allowing the producers to break-even, or perhaps even make a profit on their farms. Simultaneously, our fellow citizens struggling to put food on their table will find themselves with more opportunities for healthy, protein-rich meals."

So people with lower incomes, who already have higher incidences of obesity and diabetes and already don't eat as well as people with higher incomes, will be the intended consumers of exactly the type of foods they don't need to be eating. And that's being done as a favor of sorts, a gift to them by the benevolent NASDA.

Perhaps just as ironic is the mission of the NASDA, which includes "protection of animal and plant health, stewardship of our environment, and promoting the vitality of our rural communities."

Aussies Get Serious about Mad Cow Disease , USDA "Amused"

Aussies NAIS Working

A national system to track diseased cattle remains a work in progress here, but
Australia has developed a successful system that some say is worth replicating
by Erin Snelgrove
Yakima Herald-Republic

Celso Alvarez attaches an identification tag to a cow at the George DeRuyter &
Sons Dairy in early November 2009. The tags contain a wealth of information that
allow the cow to be identified and tracked throughout its life.

EDITOR'S NOTE: Yakima County is home to an estimated 286,432 meat and dairy
cattle. It's also where the nation's first confirmed case of mad cow disease
occurred six years ago. That discovery helped prompt efforts to develop a
national system to track diseased animals. Reporter Erin Snelgrove traveled to
Australia and reports today on how that nation developed such a program and how
efforts are progressing here.

CLONCURRY, Australia -- Dust billows in the sun-drenched sky as 600 cattle
charge through the chute. They act as one, a writhing mass of legs and hooves.
Flies swarm in their wake, and ranchers stand on alert, ready to jump into the
fray if needed.

As each animal passes, its ear tag transmits data that's entered into a national
database, allowing authorities to track each animal from birth to death.

In a global economy, where mad cow, hoof and mouth and other diseases can crush
a market overnight, the ability to track cattle can be crucial.

In Australia, where 65 percent of all beef is exported, it's especially

"It gives us lifelong traceability," said Ray Campbell, who owns a 26,000-acre
cattle operation in Cloncurry. "It gives us the edge in the world market.
Australian beef is known as clean and green."

In the United States -- where discovery of a single case of mad cow disease at a
Mabton dairy in December 2003 prompted Japan, Korea and others to ban U.S. beef
imports for more than a year -- some see the Australian system as worth

Since 2004, the U.S. Department of Agriculture has been attempting to develop a
program similar to Australia's.

But not everyone likes what the USDA has been proposing.

"This is overly intrusive, overly costly," said Bill Bullard, chief operating
officer of R-CALF, a Billings, Mont.-based organization representing thousands
of cattle producers in 47 states.

"There's no justification for the onerous regulatory scheme the USDA is
proposing ... We think this is un-American."

Whether a system such as Australia's can be developed in the United States
remains to be seen, but most in the Australian beef industry said they were glad
a universal tracking system is in place.

"From time to time, individuals indicate it's a load of garbage," Campbell said.
"But they're getting fewer and fewer."

As the world's second-largest beef exporter -- only Brazil exports more --
Australia had compelling reasons for ensuring its products are safe and

In the 1990s, it watched the spread of mad cow disease in England. Mad cow, or
Bovine Spongiform Encephalopathy (BSE), is a chronic, degenerative disease
affecting the central nervous system of cattle.

Scientists suspected that people who eat the brain, spinal cord or other
infected tissues from BSE-infected cattle can develop the incurable and
always-fatal variant Creutzfeldt-Jakob Disease, which destroys the brain and
causes dementia, memory loss, personality changes, hallucinations and other
involuntary body movements.

The British government ultimately destroyed more than 4.3 million cattle as a
safety measure because it didn't know which animals were infected.

In Australia, there was general agreement in the government and industry on the
concept of a tracking system to identify which cattle may have been exposed to a
disease, and even what they ate.

The Mabton case was suspected to have been caused by feed that a dairy cow ate
in Canada that included brains and other internal cattle organs infected with
BSE. However, authorities were unable to determine which other cattle might have
eaten the same feed or where they ended up.

Despite the general consensus in Australia on the need for tracking, working out
the details wasn't easy.

Ranchers, for example, were reluctant to disclose private business information,
such as the number of cattle they owned, in the highly competitive beef market.

James Lord, owner of the May Downs cattle station, a 600,000-acre operation in
Mount Isa, Australia, said cost was his top worry. Already, land rents were
increasing and complaints about the cost of government regulation loom as large
there as in the United States.

Ear tags alone cost the equivalent of about $2.80 U.S. each. For a large
rancher, that can easily run into tens of thousands of dollars.

Lord now thinks the database has promise. One day it could be used to track
fertility and weight -- data that could improve herd quality and economic

In the meantime, he said the ability to trace diseases helps reassure
international customers about product safety.

"We have a good, clean image. We have to maintain that image," he said.

The system works by clipping an ear tag encrypted with a 15-digit number to each
animal. The code has the uniqueness of a Social Security number and is
transmitted via radio or electronic frequencies to machines placed wherever
cattle are being moved from one operation to another. The numbers in the
machines are then transferred into a national database. Every time the animal
moves to a different farm, ranch or stockyard, the database is updated.

By 2006, a system was in place to track the movements of every one of
Australia's approximately 28 million cattle. Ranchers and producers are required
to participate.

The database program, which includes proprietary information from ranchers, is
administered by Meat and Livestock Australia, a privately operated,
producer-owned company. The company collects the equivalent of $4.50 U.S. on the
sale of each head of cattle. That money funds not only the tracking program but
also a wide range of other activities, including international marketing and
research and development.

Monitoring for compliance is conducted by each of Australia's state governments,
and there are penalties for violations. While fines vary by location, they
typically run the equivalent of $930 U.S., plus court costs.

Dale Saunders, a sale yard manager in Cloncurry, said the system isn't perfect.

"There are still a few kinks," he said. "We still have 10 percent to work on
yet. ... As people learn to understand it, it's getting better."

Sometimes tags don't work or they fall out, and sometimes people will transfer
cattle without reading the tags properly. Still, there's a general acceptance.

"I feel it's been effective," said Campbell, a Cloncurry rancher. "We use it as
a marketing tool. ... It's like any industry. We've come a long way. You have to
change with the times."

Changing with the times hasn't been as easy in the United States.

Perhaps that's because, unlike Australia, the United States exports only about
10 percent of its beef. As a result, there's less pressure to satisfy a world

But when that international trade is disrupted -- such as in 2003 when that cow
with BSE was detected in Mabton -- the results can still be disastrous.

After the outbreak, American beef was banned for 18 months by Japan. That
country was the world's largest foreign buyer of U.S. meat and had imported more
than $1 billion worth annually.

A similar ban by South Korea cost the U.S. industry an estimated $1.6 billion
over two years.

To this day, Japan, Korea and a number of other Asian nations require beef
importers to meet standards that are stricter and more expensive than standard
international guidelines.

In the wake of the mad cow scare, the USDA announced in 2004 the framework for a
national tracking process known as the National Animal Identification System, or

The USDA's long-term goal is to track the source of diseased livestock within 48
hours to stop its spread and remove any cattle suspected of carrying disease.

So far, it's spent about $147 million developing the program.

But its efforts have been slowed by resistance from the industry, which voices
many of the same concerns raised by Australian producers when that nation was
developing a program in the 1990s.

As a result, beef producers here aren't required to participate in NAIS. Only
about 37 percent of the nation's livestock producers take part on a voluntary

The USDA says that without mandatory participation, the program won't be

Jack Field, executive director of the Washington Cattlemen's Association in
Ellensburg, concedes a side benefit of a tracking system could be greater access
to the world market.

Still, he said those who want to export around the globe -- and get the
resulting premium prices for their beef -- are already doing so.

"The industry has been able to recapture current export markets with the
voluntary system," he said. "The free market drove that process."

Similar objections are raised by Bullard of R-CALF, who said the United States
has already done a great job of preventing and controlling diseases in the
livestock industry.

He thinks the proposed system is more about promoting global commerce than
disease control.

"We believe this is an attempt by the USDA and meat packers to comply with
international standards for international commerce," he said. "It's
misrepresented as a disease program."

But Jay Gordon, executive director of the Washington State Dairy Federation in
Elma, said that argument is a red herring.

"This is primarily about disease," he said.

"If we can't trace where foot and mouth disease is, what's left after the pile
gets through burning we won't be able to sell," he said, referring to how
England burned vast numbers of cattle carcasses that were feared diseased in the

"This debate is getting old," he said. "We're risking so much by being

Dan DeRuyter, a partner in George DeRuyter & Sons Dairy -- a 4,000-head
operation in Outlook -- has been preparing to participate in NAIS for several
years. He already uses electronic tags to record everything from a cow's family
tree to its milk production.

Most dairy producers already use that kind of identification program to manage
their herds. But DeRuyter said the next step is to integrate some of his data
with the national system. He supports the USDA and its efforts to implement a
universal program.

"Anything that would reassure the consumer we have a quality product is good for
us," said DeRuyter, whose family has been in the dairy business for about 40

Others are more skeptical.

The USDA conducted 14 listening sessions nationwide to take comments on the
program, including one that attracted about 75 Western livestock producers in
Pasco in May. Like Australia, concerns about cost were voiced.

If 90 percent of the beef and dairy industries participated in NAIS, the USDA
estimates the annual cost at $176 million. That breaks down to $4.91 per animal.
Buying and applying the tags makes up three-fourths of the expense.

The USDA estimates the cost for consumers would be less than one-half of 1

There's also concern by some cattlemen that confidential information would leak
from a federal database. Such information could include a producer's herd size,
which could aid competitors.

"There's fear of the unknown and who will control the database," Field said.

A few ranchers even worry that animal-rights groups could somehow gain access to
the information to use against them or that their cattle will be tracked by

Field dismisses such claims as unrealistic, but believes the USDA's proposal has

"The current federal approach -- one size fits all -- is poorly executed," he

If a database is created, many Washington cattle producers want it controlled by
the industry, like Australia's privately operated system.

An ideal program, according to many ranchers, would be privately operated
systems for each state that have uniform standards for data retrieval. They
believe such state-based databases would be more accurate.

"A huge (national) database would never be up-to-date," said Leonard Eldridge,
Washington state veterinarian with the state Department of Agriculture in

"We know our state. We don't know other states," he said. "When there's a need
for animal tracking, disease tracking, we'll share with the USDA and other state

Neil Hammerschmidt, NAIS program coordinator in Washington, D.C., said all
options are being considered, but the concern is having a program that can be
shared universally at the local, state and federal level.

Field and Eldridge hope to overcome these obstacles, and are discussing ways to
develop such a system. They contend the federal government can set up the
program's parameters, and each state can manage and control it. The states'
veterinarians would work with other veterinarians and issue tags.

To Field, a state-run program is an acceptable compromise between a national
system and no system.

"Now it appears the USDA isn't willing or ready to consider changing its
direction," he said. "It can be frustrating to see the USDA political machine

* Erin Snelgrove can be reached at 509-577-7684 or\

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

US to Short-Change Consumers to Help Big-Ag

NASDA Offers Solution to Crisis Facing Dairy, Pork, and Poultry Producers

American farmers and producers providing critical food assistance to fellow struggling Americans

Washington, DC - The National Association of State Departments of Agriculture (NASDA) this week released a proposal to address the critical economic situation of American dairy, pork, and poultry producers, while simultaneously providing much-needed nutritional assistance to Americans facing hunger due to job loss and other economic hardships.

“Each and every day, we watch as producers in our states go out of business. The current oversupply in the marketplace is causing dairy, pork, and poultry producers to accumulate debt as never before,” said NASDA President Ed Kee. “I am pleased we came together as a national organization to offer a solution to assist our producers. At the same time, our plan will provide vital aid to those Americans also greatly affected by the economic downturn.”

To date, a number of potential solutions have been proposed to help these industries survive this economic downturn and gain a solid footing for the future. Individual producers, through no fault of their own, are going out of business. Before it is too late for many producers, NASDA is proposing a bold solution: a plan to take extra inventories off the market to reduce supply, all while providing vital nutritious, protein-rich foods to those who are unable to afford them, which is in more demand now than ever before. As of July 2009, there are nearly 36 million Americans currently participating in the nation’s Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) – over a 23% increase from just a year ago.

Leonard Blackham, Utah Commissioner of Agriculture and Food, and leader of the NASDA working group, explained, “By removing these excess products off the market, and placing them into food assistance programs, we will quickly stabilize the prices for these products, allowing the producers to break-even, or perhaps even make a profit on their farms. Simultaneously, our fellow citizens struggling to put food on their table will find themselves with more opportunities for healthy, protein-rich meals.”

The NASDA plan would establish a tiered-purchase program for the dairy and pork industries, as well as a one-time purchase of turkey products. For dairy, the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) would begin with a purchase 75 million pounds of cheese and additional dairy products, as determined by USDA. This would be done in three equal stages over a 120-day period, or until the target all-milk price of $16/cwt – the cost of production – is met.

To deal with the excess product in the pork sector, a purchase by USDA of cold storage inventories of pork would be implemented over a 180-day period, or until a target price of $49/cwt was realized. Each tier would consist of 100 million pounds of pork products. USDA would also make a one-time purchase of 100 million pounds of turkey products.

“To ensure these products reach those who truly need it, the aid will be distributed through food assistance programs, which could include food banks, the school lunch program, and a SNAP-PLUS program, as well as foreign military food assistance in countries such as Afghanistan and Iraq,” said Steve Troxler, North Carolina Commissioner of Agriculture. “Under SNAP-PLUS, an additional allotment to the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), at an amount to be determined, would be allocated for beneficiaries of the program to purchase meat and dairy products at private grocers. Using the system currently utilized across the nation, participants would be given separate electronic benefits transfer cards to spend solely on these products.”

Through product purchases to reduce the oversupply on the market, NASDA’s proposal will help farmers and producers recover from severe economic hardships. At the same time, the proposal will help put much needed food on the tables of the countless American families struggling to make ends meet. NASDA calls upon Congressional leaders and Administration officials to step up to the plate and take the Meat the Need proposal into consideration to improve the lives of millions of Americans.

NASDA is a nonprofit, nonpartisan association that represents the commissioners, secretaries, and directors of the state departments of agriculture in all fifty states and four U.S. territories. As regulators of significant aspects of our nation’s agriculture industry, NASDA members are actively involved in ensuring the safety of an abundant food supply, protection of animal and plant health, stewardship of our environment, and promoting the vitality of our rural communities.

Sunday, December 6, 2009

Diagnosing and Mis-Diagnosing CJD

November 17, 2009 in Features
Dr. Gott: Rare, degenerative brain disease is fatal
Peter H. Gott, M.D. The Spokesman-Review
Tags: advice Dr. Gott health syndicated columnists

DEAR DR. GOTT: In reading your column about the 72-year-old man with ALS, I have
some questions. My husband, also 72, was diagnosed with Creutzfeldt-Jakob
disease. The physicians were not positive but indicated he had the earmarks for
it. His death certificate lists the disease as the cause. The family anticipated
an autopsy after his death, but it was not allowed because the coroners refused
to do it due to the seriousness of the disease. Without the autopsy we are not
sure of the actual cause of death.

My husband's symptoms were very similar to the ones discussed in your article. I
particularly noticed the statement about a "gene mutation." My husband's doctors
mentioned a gene mutation.

He endured many tests. My entire family experienced an emotional roller coaster
daily due to physicians indicating medicines would be able to help him lead a
somewhat normal life. The disease progressed rapidly, leaving no time to arrange
things. He was not allowed to die with any degree of dignity. After his death it
was even worse due to the seriousness of Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease. No one
wanted to be involved.

DEAR READER: Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease is a rare, degenerative brain disorder
that is always fatal. In the United States, there are about 200 cases a year. It
typically occurs later in life and progresses rapidly. Onset of symptoms usually
begins around age 60, with about 90 percent of sufferers dying within a year.

There are three categories of Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease. The first and rarest is
acquired, which is contracted by exposure to brain or nervous-system tissue,
usually through certain medical procedures. Since first being described in 1920,
less than 1 percent of cases have been acquired.

The next is hereditary, accounting for 5 to 10 percent of all cases. This is
diagnosed when the sufferer has a family history of the disease and/or tests
positive for a genetic mutation associated with it.

The final and most common category is sporadic. This variety accounts for at
least 85 percent of all cases. It occurs in people who have no known risk
factors, genetic mutations or family history for Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease.

Symptoms usually begin as problems with muscular coordination, impaired vision,
memory, judgment and thinking, personality changes and rapidly progressive
dementia. Many sufferers also experience depression, insomnia or unusual
sensations. As it progresses, mental impairment becomes severe. Most develop
involuntary muscle jerks and may go blind. Eventually, the ability to move and
speak is lost and the patient enters a coma.

Symptoms can be similar to those of other progressive neurological disorders but
there are unique changes in brain tissue that can be seen at autopsy. It also
typically causes a faster deterioration of abilities than other neurological

There is no treatment at this time that can cure or control the disorder.
Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease cannot be transmitted through the air, by touch or
through most other forms of casual contact. This means that unless you have
direct contact with contaminated brain or nervous-system tissue or have a family
history or gene mutation, there is little chance of developing the condition.

I understand your concerns about not having a proper diagnosis and autopsy. I
also understand the coroners' concerns about performing the autopsy. Other more
qualified professionals, such as the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention,
should have been called in to handle the situation.

If you want to learn more about this disease, go online to the National
Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke (which is part of the National
Institutes of Health) where you can read and print out the Creutzfeldt-Jakob
disease fact sheet at cjd/detail_cjd.htm.

Dr. Peter Gott is a retired physician and the author of the book "Dr. Gott's No
Flour, No Sugar Diet." Readers may write to Dr. Gott c/o United Media, 200
Madison Ave., Fourth Floor, New York, NY 10016.\

Friday, November 6, 2009

A Quest to Grow "Sustainable" Beef

November 4, 2009

Estancia Beef Furthers Commitment to Sustainable Grass Fed Beef, Hires Global Authority on Farm Assurance and Production Protocols

SAN FRANCISCO, Nov 04, 2009 (BUSINESS WIRE) - Estancia Beef, a leading U.S. retailer of grass-fed beef, today announced the appointment of Michelle Waterman to spearhead its European launch. Additionally, Waterman will assume responsibility for Estancia's farm assurance, production protocols and general codes of practice.

"Michelle is among the very most respected people in her field," said Bill Reed, Estancia's CEO. "She shares all of our core beliefs around prioritizing environmental, animal welfare, and human health concerns within our production standards."

Michelle started as an Animal Health Inspector for the UK government, which involved enforcement of UK legislation with respect to animal traceability, welfare and husbandry. She then began a long career with Tesco, the UK's biggest retailer, and was responsible for the production and sourcing of all meat, fish and poultry sold by the business. Michelle wrote and implemented Tesco's Livestock Codes of Practice (which cover welfare, food safety, traceability and environmental responsibility).

Under Michelle's guidance, Tesco implemented visionary and rigorous policies relating to livestock, such as the prohibition of genetically-modified feed, the banning of all non-stun slaughter methods, and the creation of "equivalent" standards of production in countries as far afield as Argentina, Brazil & Uruguay.

"Michelle's experience will lead us toward serious, sustainable solutions that are not currently part of industrial beef production in the US," noted JP Thieriot, Estancia's Chairman. "Mad Cow, Ecoli, superbugs, millions of tons of contaminated effluent, generally unhealthy beef - these are all industrial feedlot phenomena. These practices end up giving beef an unnecessary bad name, and generally perpetuate the unsustainable and maligned system we find with industrial beef producers. Cattle are probably the most promising source of clean 'big protein' out there. They're also the most important source of non-hydrocarbon derived fertilizer available. We have to go back to the integrated and eternally sustainable farm. It would be a three-for-one: clean, healthy food; less dependence on fossil fuels; more jobs in the countryside."

Waterman states, "I am delighted to be joining Estancia, a company which shares my beliefs and views on the way meat should be produced in the future and in the need for sharing information and reward throughout the supply chain, from farmer to consumer. My passion is the improvement of animal welfare, and allowing consumers to make informed choices about the consequences of their purchases. As the world's population grows, the way in which animals are farmed will come under growing scrutiny. I believe the systems Estancia seeks to promote and expand will be one of the only truly sustainable ways of consuming meat in the future."

Michelle currently lives 35 miles south of London, where she raises beef cattle, sheep, laying hens and agricultural crops.

About Estancia Beef

With ranches in the United States, Argentina, and Uruguay, Estancia Beef produces and provides the highest quality grass-fed beef available in the world. Estancia pledges to serve consumers the best tasting, healthiest, and most sustainable beef on the market; provide complete transparency from pasture to plate; and work closely with ranchers and every step of delivery.

SOURCE: Estancia Beef

SRPR | Shev Rush Public Relations
Shev Rush

Copyright Business Wire 2009

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

MMPUs: The USDAs New Mobile Killing Machines

Just about every agricultural state has these things now; USDA Approved

Direct Marketers to Tap Potential of Mobile Meat Processing Units

October 2008 Newsletter

At the very time that demand for locally and responsibly raised meat is increasing, small farmers and ranchers – who are best suited to meet this need – are losing access to the meat packing operations that enable them to participate in this growing market.

Consolidation in the meat processing industry has resulted in fewer locations where animals can be processed under USDA inspection. For smaller producers, who lack the resources to transport small numbers of animals over long distances and who prefer to avoid the stress placed on the animals, this has created a major obstacle. The system makes it difficult to sell USDA-inspected meat in the communities where it is produced and directly to consumers.

Now a new group, the Nebraska Environmental Action Coalition, wants to find a way to provide the infrastructure to allow local farmers to market USDA-certified meat to local consumers. They met with farmers, representatives of the Nebraska Food Cooperative, the Center for Rural Affairs and with others familiar with the problem, and identified a USDA-inspected Mobile Meat-Processing Unit as an important step. Several of these units have been manufactured in Washington State and are currently in operation around the country.

A Mobile Meat Processing Unit allows “on-farm” slaughtering of large animals (beef, pork, lamb, goats, etc.). The carcasses would then be transported to facilities for further cutting and packaging to schools, grocers, restaurants, consumers or other institutions in want of locally-raised meats.

This unit may require the establishment of new local USDA-inspected cut and wrap facilities or the upgrading of existing facilities to meet USDA requirements. With this type of local processing, farmers and ranchers could choose how to finish their animals to meet customer demand and easily market meat to local establishments.

The project is in its early stages. If you would like more information, contact Diane Schroeder, co-director of the Nebraska Environmental Action Coalition at or 402.641.3652. The Nebraska Food Cooperative collects and distributes meats, vegetables, dry goods and other rural small producer products grown and/or manufactured by Nebraska farmers and residents. These are delivered to customers throughout the state. Find out more at,

Nebraska MMPUs;

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

HSUS Socks it To USDA Again / Cruelty Inspectors Sleeping on Job(s)


WASHINGTON, Oct. 30, 2009 - In response to the events at Bushways Packing Inc. in Grand Isle, Vt., Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack said:

"The deplorable scenes recorded in the video released by the Humane Society of the United States are unequivocally unacceptable. The callous behavior and attitudes displayed in the video clearly appear to be violations of USDA's humane handling regulations.

"USDA's Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) is investigating these alleged violations of the Humane Methods of Slaughter Act (HMSA). FSIS took immediate action with respect to its employee and the establishment upon preliminary verification of the incident. The Department fully supports the investigation of all those involved in these alleged violations of the HMSA. To this end, I have also called on our Inspector General to conduct a criminal investigation of the events in the video.

"FSIS has a rigorous program to train inspection personnel in verifying humane handling and slaughter at establishments. When an FSIS employee observes behaviors that are not in compliance with the HMSA, they are obligated to take immediate action. The behavior of FSIS and establishment personnel witnessed in this video is inexcusable."

Small Fry Farmers Uncle Sam Wants Your Food

Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack today announced the USDA will hold a series of small business conferences to launch the Food Commodity Contracting Opportunities for Rural America initiative.

The initiative is designed to enable rural economic growth by increasing small business contracting participation in rural areas of the country. USDA intends to help small farmer-owned cooperatives and small rural businesses to better compete for government and commercial contracts at the department.

“The Obama Administration is committed to renewing America’s promise in rural areas, and we hope small businesses and co-ops from throughout the country will grow and create jobs by doing business with the federal government,” Vilsack said. “This new food commodity contracting initiative is a great example of USDA working to help small businesses build capacity and creating new opportunities for producers throughout rural America.”

Each year USDA purchases more than $5.2 billion in goods and services essential to meeting the needs of its customers and the various missions of the Department. Approximately 50 percent of these dollars are spent on food commodities. USDA’s Office of Small Disadvantaged Business Utilization and USDA’s Rural Development, Farm Service Agency, and Agricultural Marketing Services are co-hosting the conferences and at least five additional events will be held in other regions of the country.

The first Food Commodity Contracting Opportunities for Rural America conference will take place on November 9 at Albany State University in Albany, Ga., 504 College Drive, Albany, Ga. Registration will take place between 8 and 8:45 a.m., with the conference running between 9 a.m. and 5 p.m. Registration for the conference is free. Space is limited so email or fax your name, company name, full address, telephone number and email address to: or fax: 202-720-3001, or phone: 202-720-7380.

USDA officials expect small farmer-owned cooperatives and small rural businesses attending the conferences will:

Become aware of necessary capabilities and certifications to participate in Federal food commodity procurements;
Learn about USDA resources for business development and technical assistance;
Establish relationships with key USDA personnel who purchase food projects and who set and establish policy and standards; and
Learn how to increase and meet demand for their products and services within local food systems, USDA, and other Federal agencies.
Topics: cooperatives, economic development, Economy, Food Commodity Contracting Opportunities for Rural America initiative, Governance, Rural America,

USDA Gives Ag-Air a Break; No Increase in Service Fees

Could this little perk to BigAg be a part of the plan to get some "free trade" going for export of US meat?

Air Transport Association Statement on USDA Withdrawal of Inspection Fee Increase
Mon Nov 2, 2009 1:06pm EST

Air Transport Association Statement on USDA Withdrawal of Inspection Fee

WASHINGTON, Nov. 2 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- The Air Transport Association of
America (ATA), the industry trade organization for the leading U.S. airlines,
today applauded a decision by the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Animal
and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) to withdraw the recently published
interim rule to increase the fees charged for certain agricultural quarantine
and inspection services.

"We are pleased that the Department of Agriculture reassessed its plans to
implement a fee increase on international airline passengers and we hope that
any future consideration of such a change will be done in consultation with
the airlines, who question the need for another fee increase," said ATA
President and CEO James C. May.

The rule, which was scheduled to take effect on Nov. 1, 2009, would have
imposed a fee increase on international airline passengers and air carriers.
According to the USDA, this increase would have raised an additional $40
million annually from passengers and $7 million annually from air carriers --
above and beyond the $480 million annually currently collected from passengers
and carriers.

ATA airline members and their affiliates transport more than 90 percent of all
U.S. airline passenger and cargo traffic. For additional industry information,

SOURCE Air Transport Association

Elizabeth Merida, +1-202-626-4205 or David Castelveter, +1-202-626-4033, both
of Air Transport Association

USDA finds H1N1 flu in Indiana commercial swine

More pig tales
Mon Nov 2, 2009 3:18pm EST
Chris Doering

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The U.S. Agriculture Department on Monday said it found the pandemic H1N1 influenza virus in a commercial swine herd in Indiana.

USDA said in a statement the pigs as well as caretakers have fully recovered. It noted none of the swine at the facility are showing clinical signs of the virus.

UPDATE 2-Two U.S. deaths possible in beef recall

Mon Nov 2, 2009 12:40pm EST

e'coli to blame

* CDC says total of 28 cases, 16 hospitalizations

* All but three cases are in U.S. Northeast

* Illness connected to recall of Fairbank Farms beef (CDC describes scope of outbreak; paragraphs 1-3, 6, 9 new)

WASHINGTON, Nov 2 (Reuters) - An outbreak of food-borne illness, linked to dangerous bacteria in ground beef, sickened 28 people and caused at least one death, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said on Monday.

The CDC said a New York adult with underlying medical conditions had died and another possibly related death in New Hampshire was under investigation. State officials attribute the New Hampshire death to the O157:H7 E. coli bacteria.

All but three of the 28 cases listed by the CDC were in the U.S. Northeast and 18 were in the New England states. Sixteen hospitalizations were reported, said a CDC spokeswoman. The bacteria involved were from a common strain, so tests were under way to see if all of the reported cases were related.

Over the weekend, Fairbank Farms of Ashville, New York, recalled 545,699 lbs (248,450 kg) of ground beef products.

The Agriculture Department, which oversees meat safety, said an investigation led it to conclude "there is an association between the fresh ground beef products and illnesses in Connecticut, Maine and Massachusetts." USDA worked with state and federal officials in examining a cluster of E. coli O157:H7 illnesses.

A potentially deadly bacteria, E. coli can cause bloody diarrhea, dehydration and, in severe cases, kidney failure. The very young, the elderly and people with weak immune systems are the most susceptible to foodborne illness.

A string of food-borne safety scares led the U.S. House of Representatives to pass legislation this summer to require more inspections and oversight of food manufacturers and would give the government new authority to order recalls.

Fairbank Farms announced the recall on Saturday. The beef was produced in mid-September and probably was labeled for sale before the end of the month, said USDA.

It went to retailers including Trader Joe's, Price Chopper, Lancaster and Wild Harvest, Shaw's, a unit of Supervalu (SVU.N), BJ's (BJ.N), Ford Brothers and Giant, a unit of Ahold (AHLN.AS), in eight states -- Connecticut, Maryland, Massachusetts, New Jersey, New York, North Carolina, Pennsylvania and Virginia.

The beef was produced Sept. 14 to 16, and the company urged consumers to check their freezers for products listed in the recall. Labels of the recalled packages will say EST 492 inside the USDA seal. (Reporting by Charles Abbott; Editing by Walter Bagley)

USTR / USDA Issue Joint Statement Re: Taiwans Lifting of U.S. Beef Ban

Joint Statement from USTR and USDA Spokeswomen Regarding Expanded Market Access for U.S. beef in Taiwan

Washington, Nov. 2, 2009 - The Office of the United States Trade Representative and the U.S. Department of Agriculture today released a brief statement regarding Taiwan's announcement on the import of American beef. The following statement is from Carol Guthrie, Assistant United States Trade Representative for Public Affairs, and Chris Mather, USDA Director of Communications:

"After over two years of extensive negotiations and scientific and technical exchanges, the United States has been looking forward to an announcement from Taiwan authorities that Taiwan would fully open its market to American beef and beef products on the basis of the bilateral protocol we have negotiated. The Protocol that Taiwan promulgated today is science-based and follows the guidelines of World Organization of Animal Health (OIE) as well as the findings of Taiwan's own risk assessment on the safety of U.S. beef. We understand today that Taiwan also announced a number of other additional domestic measures regarding beef and beef products. We are currently reviewing these measures to ensure they allow Taiwan consumers the opportunity to enjoy the same safe American beef and beef products that American families eat. We look forward to working with our partners in Taiwan to ensure that Taiwan's domestic requirements are consistent with the Protocol, the science, the OIE guidelines, and Taiwan's international obligations."

Now see: Taiwans Health Minister Offers to Resign after unpopular decision to Lift U.S. Beef Ban - Pressure from U.S. to Blame, Some Say;

Click on title above to go there;

Dying for Beef: USDA Recalls More Bad Meat - One Consumer Dies

Dying for your supper II: USDA recalls 546,000 pounds of ground beef
November 2, 6:15 PM Philadelphia Progressive Examiner Tim McCown

A New York company, Fairbanks Farms, was voluntarily recalling 546,000 pounds of ground beef. Some of this companies products may be linked to two deaths and 26 people who reported E.coli like symptoms.

The USDA said the meat was processed and sold by Fairbanks Farms in Asheville, North Carolina. It was distributed in Connecticut, Maine, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Maryland, North Carolina, New Jersey, New York, and Pennyslvania.

Each package contains the number # EST 492. It was packaged between September 15 and 16. They may possibly have been labeled with a date of September 19 through the 28th in which the product was to be sold. This means that the products are no longer being sold as a fresh.

Lola Scott, a spokesperson for the USDA said that there is now a death in New York associated with E-coli tainted beef. Earlier someone in New Hampshire was reported dead as well. All of the people reported as ill from this beef were from Connecticut, Maine, New Hampshire and Massachusetts.

The USDA recall list noted that the meat was sold in several ways including ground beef, meat loaf mix and hamburger patties. The products were sold in the following stores; Trader Joe's, Price Chopper, Lancaster, BJ's, Ford Bros., and Giant Food Stores. Anyone with any concerns is advised to call the food store they bought the meat at.

Fairbanks Farms have had 2 previous voluntary recalls in the last two years. In September 2007, 887 pounds of ground beef may have been contaminated by E-coli. In May 2008, 22,481 pounds of meat were recalled because the meat may have been contaminated with pieces of plastic.

Symptoms of E-coli infections include stomach cramps and severe diarrhea. E-coli infections can lead to complications including kidney problems. Symptoms mainly show up three to five days after a person eats contaminated food though it can take up to eight days for symptoms to appear. If you believe you have symptoms see your doctor immediately.

There had been a decrease in cases of E-coli until this year when for unknown reasons, there has been a marked increase in recalls including this one. This prompts recognition that we need more over sight because deregulation is seen as not working.

We are only capable of inspecting about 1% of all meat. That is also the amount of imported foods that USDA is capable of inspecting as well.What might be slipping through in the other 99% of products we don't have the USDA manpower to inspect. It at least poses the question of whether our food is safe or not and have we just been very lucky so far?

Sunday, November 1, 2009


A ProMED-mail post

ProMED-mail is a program of the
International Society for Infectious Diseases

Date: Fri 30 Oct 2009
Source: Minnesota Board of Animal Health news release [edited]

Elk from Olmsted County herd depopulated to control CWD
The Minnesota Board of Animal Health announced today [30 Oct 2009]
that the farmed elk herd in Olmsted County has been depopulated and
tested for chronic wasting disease (CWD).

In January 2009, a female elk from the herd tested positive for CWD.
The remaining elk in the herd were removed to minimize the risk of CWD
spreading to other farmed deer and elk or to wild white-tailed deer in
the area. Marksmen from Wildlife Services, a division of the United
States Department of Agriculture (USDA), euthanized the animals in
September [2009]. [This is confusing. Marksmen euthanized the animals?
Did they use darts with euthanasia solution? I find that unlikely.
While gunshot is an approved method of euthanasia according the
American Veterinary Medical Association Panel on Euthanasia, it seems
that calling this depopulation by gunshot "euthanasia" is extremely
stretching the definition of euthanasia. - Mod.TG]

USDA, Veterinary Services and Board personnel collected samples
[brain] from each elk. Those samples were submitted to the US
Department of Agriculture's National Veterinary Services Laboratory
(NVSL) in Ames, Iowa for testing. A total of 3 additional elk from the
558-head herd tested positive for CWD, 1 male and 2 females.

In 2003, Minnesota implemented mandatory registration and CWD
surveillance programs for farmed cervidae herds (members of the deer
and elk family). When farmed cervidae over 16 months of age die or are
slaughtered [for meat consumption], herd owners must submit brain
samples [from those animals] for CWD testing.

CWD is a fatal brain and nervous system disease found in cervidae in
certain parts of North America. The disease is caused by an abnormally
shaped protein called a prion, which can damage brain and nerve
tissue. Infected animals show progressive loss of body weight with
accompanying behavioral changes. In later stages of the disease,
infected animals become emaciated (thus "wasting" disease). Other
signs include staggering, consuming large amounts of water, excessive
urination, and drooling.

According to state health officials and the Centers for Disease
Control and Prevention, there is no evidence that CWD can be
transmitted to humans.

For more information on CWD visit the Board of Animal Health website.

Contact: Malissa Fritz, BAH Communications Director

Communicated by:
Terry S Singeltary Sr

[How much money has been spent trying to eliminate a disease that has
been known to be in the United States since approximately the 1960's
and has never been known to transfer to humans or have an impact on
trade issues?

Likewise, while millions of dollars have been spent trying to
eliminate a disease that has no human health or trade effects, how
much money has been invested in curing or learning more about the
disease? One has to wonder at some point what the goal is and what the
priorities are, and are we operating out of fear and possibilities or

The Midwestern state of Minnesota can be located on the
HealthMap/ProMED-mail interactive map at
Olmsted County in southeastern Minnesota can be seen on the map at
. - Mod.TG]

[see also:
Chronic wasting disease, cervids - USA (07): (WY) 20091015.3548
Chronic wasting disease, cervids - USA (06): (MN) culling 20090923.3344
Chronic wasting disease, cervids - USA (05): disease spread 20090911.3198
Chronic wasting disease, cervids - USA (04): (WV) 20090601.2041
Chronic wasting disease, cervids - Canada: (SK) 20090417.1462
Chronic wasting disease, cervids - USA: (AZ) conf. absence 20090416.1447
Chronic wasting disease, cervids - Canada: (AB) 20090327.1192
Chronic wasting disease, cervids - Canada: (AB) 20090131.0444
Chronic wasting disease, cervids - USA: (MN) 20090131.0443
Chronic wasting disease, cervids - USA: (WV) 20090101.0004]
ProMED-mail makes every effort to verify the reports that
are posted, but the accuracy and completeness of the
information, and of any statements or opinions based
thereon, are not guaranteed. The reader assumes all risks in
using information posted or archived by ProMED-mail. ISID
and its associated service providers shall not be held
responsible for errors or omissions or held liable for any
damages incurred as a result of use or reliance upon posted
or archived material.
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A ProMED-mail post

ProMED-mail is a program of the
International Society for Infectious Diseases

Date: Sat 31 Oct 2009
Source: Pathology Today, Osztyn-Krakow, Poland, abstract 32 [edited]

[The following paper is derived from the proceedings of the 27th
meeting of the European Society of Veterinary Pathology, held in
Krakow, Poland, 9-12 Sep 2009.

The abstract can also be found on page 118 of the proceedings at
. - Mod.AS]

Fatal aplastic anaemia with haemorrhagic disease in calves in Germany
[Authors: EC Kappe1, M Halami2, B Schade1, J Bauer3, W Dekant4, J
Buitkamp5, J Boettcher1, H Mueller2
1. Bavarian Animal Health Service, Poing, Germany
2. Institute for Virology, Faculty of Veterinary Medicine, Leipzig, Germany
3. Centre of Life and Food Sciences, Technical University of Munich,
Freising, Germany
4. Department of Toxicology, University of Wuerzburg, Germany
5. Bavarian State Research Centre for Agriculture, Poing, Germany]

A haemorrhagic disease occurred in 52 calves from 42 farms in Germany.
At the age of about 2 to 3 weeks, calves had conspicuous, spontaneous
transcutaneous petechiae and haemorrhages in mucosal surfaces as well
as excessive bleeding associated with trauma.

Blood analysis revealed a marked thrombocytopenia, leucopenia, and
granulocytopenia. Severe haemorrhages in the skin and gastrointestinal
tract were the major findings at post-mortem examination. Histological
investigation indicated a severe bone marrow hypoplasia/aplasia.
Infections with bacteria, bovine viral diarrhoea virus, or bluetongue
virus were ruled out. Specific toxins such as Furazolidone, DCVC
metabolites or mycotoxins were not detected. Pedigree analysis gave no
indication for heredity of this syndrome. Using a broad-spectrum PCR,
a circovirus with high similarities to porcine circovirus type 2b
(PCV2b), was detected in several of the affected calves.

The distinct cause of the disease still remains unknown. Potentially,
the pathogenesis is complex and includes components such as infection,
hereditary disposition, and immune-mediated destruction of blood cell
precursors. Further investigations are necessary to clarify the role
of PCV2.

Communicated by:
Sabine Zentis
Castleview Pedigree English Longhorns
Gut Laach
52385 Nideggen

[In the context of the data above on several positive PCRs for
circovirus, reference deserves to be made to the recent comment of
Prof Jeanne Brugere-Picoux (ENVA, Maisons-Alfort, France): "If we
consider comparative pathology, it is possible that an
immunodepressive virus with medullar aplasia and hemorrhagic syndrome
may be involved, like a circovirus (such as chicken anemia virus or
sometimes porcine circovirus); see ProMED-mail post 20091006.3465

Further details are anticipated, including the percentage of positives
among the tested samples, and the results of PCR for circovirus in the
other affected European countries.

Regarding circovirus in pigs, subscribers are referred to the recent
ProMED-mail post 20091004.3453, which addressed circovirus in Swiss
swine. - Mod.AS]

Date: Fri 23 Oct 2009
Source: Vetsweb [edited]

VLA investigates cause of fatal bleeding calf syndrome
The UK Veterinary Laboratories Agency (VLA) is working with others to
discover the still unknown cause of blood sweating disease, also known
as idiopathic haemorrhagic diathesis of calves or fatal bleeding calf

Recently similar cases were reported in Scotland, England, Germany,
Belgium, and The Netherlands and may possibly be ascribed to one new
emerging disease. Clinical signs in calves include bleeding from
apparently intact skin and also from injection and ear tagging sites
together with signs of bleeding from visible mucous membranes, nose
and rectum. Once affected calves usually die. Only calves less than 4
weeks old are affected.

The [signs] are caused by an almost complete destruction of the bone
marrow. This seems to be occurring at or around the time of birth. The
cause is not yet known. To date no infectious agent (known or novel)
likely to have caused the condition has been identified in any of the
tissues of affected calves [but see German findings in item 1. -Mod.AS]

VLA and the Scottish Agricultural College (SAC) attempt to
comprehensively record and investigate the condition. Their research
is designed to identify the potential factors which might be causing
the disease.

The Human Animal Infections and Risk Surveillance (HAIRS) group, which
routinely meets to assess any risks to human health from emerging
diseases, has been briefed and is considering the available data.

UK vets are requested to submit calves to their local VLA or SAC
laboratory for a full examination.

For more information and images of affected calves, visit the Q&A page
on the VLA website [see item 3].

Communicated by:

Date: Sat 31 Oct 2009
Source: Veterinary Laboratories Agency, UK [accessed 31 Oct 2009, edited]

Blood sweating disease (also known as idiopathic haemorrhagic
diathesis of calves)
'This intriguing disease captures the imagination. The VLA will be
working with others to help discover the cause.'

Professor Peter Borriello, chief executive says:
'VLA plays a key role in identifying new and emerging diseases in the
national herd. Identification of blood sweating disease (also known as
idiopathic haemorrhagic disease of calves) is a good example of this.
Defra have already commissioned us to look at what might be causing
the disease and we will be working with our international colleagues
to find out what they know about the condition and how we might

Q1: What does the disease look like?
Clinical signs in calves include bleeding from apparently intact skin
and also from injection and ear tagging sites together with signs of
bleeding from visible mucous membranes, nose and rectum.

VLA has made several images available [the following 4 images can be
downloaded at the above URL:
1. Hind limb
2. Skin
3. Ear tips
4. Head]

Q2: What causes the disease?
The [signs] are caused by an almost complete destruction of the bone
marrow of the calf, which produces the red and white blood cells vital
for the animal's immune system and blood clotting mechanisms.

This seems to be occurring at or around the time of birth, although it
is uncertain whether the damage is occurring in the womb or soon after

The cause is not yet known. There are a number of lines of
investigation being pursued, which include management and
environmental factors on the affected farms. Although there is
currently no evidence of an infectious cause it cannot be totally
ruled out at this point. [See German findings in item 1].

Q3: Does the disease lead to death?
Only a few calves have been affected in any one herd, but once
affected they usually die. However there are reports, mainly
anecdotal, of some affected calves making a full recovery. Only calves
less than 4 weeks old are affected. The mothers of the affected calves
are usually perfectly healthy.

Q4: How many case of this disease have occurred in Great Britain?
Up to the end of September [2009], 37 calves on 31 farms have been
diagnosed with the condition in England.

Since April 2009, 40 calves on 20 farms have been diagnosed with the
condition in Scotland.

The number of affected calves in each herd is very low. It is usually
less than 1 percent and there is no sign of spread between animals.

Q5: Is it on the increase?
Recent media coverage suggests that there is an increase in the number
of cases. At this moment it is not possible to confirm if there is an
increase in the frequency of the condition.

Greater numbers are likely to reflect better awareness by farmers and
private veterinary surgeons as a result of media interest and efforts
by VLA and the Scottish Agricultural College (SAC) to comprehensively
record and investigate the condition.

Q6: Does the disease occur in other countries?
Yes, cases have been reported in Germany, Belgium, and Holland since
2008 although investigation suggests that the disease has been seen on
some farms in Belgium since 2006. Cases have also been reported in
France and Italy.

Q7: Is there any risk to humans through contact or food?
As the age of the animal affected is 0-4 weeks, they would not be
entering the food chain. The age they are affected is very consistent
and the disease has never been seen in older animals.

To date no infectious agent (known or novel) likely to have caused the
condition has been identified in any of the tissues of affected calves.

There has been no direct evidence or reports of any potential
transmission to people in Germany where the disease has been present
for at least 18 months.

There is currently no evidence to suggest that the disease is
infectious or contagious.

The Human Animal Infections and Risk Surveillance (HAIRS) group, which
routinely meets to assess any risks to human health from emerging
diseases, has been briefed and is considering the available data.

Q8: What is being done to find out more about the disease?
Research carried out by VLA and SAC, funded by Defra and the Scottish
Government, is ongoing and is designed to identify the potential
factors which might be causing the disease.

An international meeting is taking place in December [2009] to
consider what is known about the condition and to identify the best
way forward in collaborative investigation. [A satellite symposium on
the syndrome is planned for 2 Dec 2009 within the framework of the 1st
European Buiatrics Forum, scheduled for 1-3 Dec 2009 in Marseille,

Q9: What should farmers do if they see the symptoms [signs] in their herd?
They should consult their own vet who can submit calves to their local
VLA or SAC laboratory for a full examination.

Communicated by:
Sabine Zentis
Castleview Pedigree English Longhorns
Gut Laach
52385 Nideggen

[see also:
Undiagnosed disease, fatal, bovine - Europe (04): Germany 20091018.3578
Undiagnosed disease, fatal, bovine - Europe (03): France 20091006.3465
Undiagnosed disease, fatal, bovine - Europe (02): RFI 20091005.3459
Undiagnosed disease, fatal, bovine - Europe: RFI 20091003.3441
Undiagnosed disease & deaths, bovine - UK: (Scotland) RFI 20090923.3345
Undiagnosed disease & deaths, bovine - Germany (03): ongoing 20090329.1214
Undiagnosed disease & deaths, bovine - Germany (02): sugg. etiology
Undiagnosed disease & deaths, bovine - Germany: RFI 20090202.0470
Circovirus, swine - Switzerland 20091004.3453]
ProMED-mail makes every effort to verify the reports that
are posted, but the accuracy and completeness of the
information, and of any statements or opinions based
thereon, are not guaranteed. The reader assumes all risks in
using information posted or archived by ProMED-mail. ISID
and its associated service providers shall not be held
responsible for errors or omissions or held liable for any
damages incurred as a result of use or reliance upon posted
or archived material.
Become a ProMED-mail Premium Subscriber at

Visit ProMED-mail's web site at .
Send all items for posting to:
(NOT to an individual moderator). If you do not give your
full name and affiliation, it may not be posted. Send
commands to subscribe/unsubscribe, get archives, help,
etc. to: For assistance from a
human being send mail to:

Saturday, October 31, 2009

"PriceChopper" Warns Customers: Fairbanks Ground Beef Recalled ...


Kow Killer Klubs: Kooperatives

Cooperatives Working Together to Kill Cows
By admin | October 30, 2009
Submitted by Animal Place Sanctuary

I know I’ve been blogging a lot about the dairy industry these past few days. I promise I’ll be blogging about other farmed animal and Animal Place related issues soon, but this article was brought to my attention. I had to post about it, it’s just so creepy and Halloween is right around the corner, so it seemed appropriate.

Living in California, the largest dairy state, it’s hard not to hear about the “plight” of dairy farmers. Feed prices are up. Milk prices for producers are down significantly. Farmers are left with decisions to make and who do they turn to when times are tough? Apparently, Cooperatives Working Together - a collection of dairy co-ops that get to benefit any time a down-and-out-of-luck dairy farm participates in their herd retirement program.

You heard that right, herd retirement. If you are a cynic when it comes to the language industry uses, you probably laughed darkly at that nice little term. If you are unfamiliar with the way agri-business spins and twists and confuses with language, then you might think herd retirement was synonymous with green pastures and nice, new cow sanctuary digs. Or maybe you do realize that herd retirement = slaughter. I mean, I know people generally like to consider a permanent retirement from the work place, but this is a bit of an extreme interpretation of the word.

If you’re like this farmer, this is how hard the decision to retire your herd might be:

“He said it was the hardest thing he ever had to do,” she said. “Luckily, my boys could do it.”

Yes, it must have been downright tough-as-nails hard carting off 1,500 cows to slaughter. Lucky!! Someone else did it for this guy. Left out of the equation are the cows. You know the herd about to be retired? How do you suppose they felt being crowded into metal containers, transported miles to the nearest abattoir, unloaded, poked and prodded, shoved and pushed, forward motion to the man or woman who would punch a hole in their heads, cut their throats, butcher their bodies?

I am a compassionate person. But let’s face facts, here: This family (and in all honesty, I wish them economic success w/o animals) has profited off of the exploitation and use of another species without their consent. These cows have had thousands of gallons of milk taken from them for people to drink, they have given birth to calves they’ve never nursed. This is their send-off gift of retirement? Well, it is just sooner than normal - all dairy cows are slaughtered, of course, even when they could live another decade.

Back to the Cooperatives Working Together (CWT). They even have a program where you can include all of the bred heifers in the herd. Bred heifers = pregnant. It does not matter if the cow is 45 days pregnant or full-term, nine-months pregnant - CWT will buy them for a flat fee of $700/cow. What happens to these pregnant cows? Their babies? Generally the cow is stunned and her throat cut. Inside her, the calf - if he is full-term - will struggle with her as she dies (for as she dies, so does he). The cow may then be cut open and her fully-conscious or, by then, dead calf removed from her womb. The calf may be used for research, his blood pumped from a still-beating heart to make use of their fetal blood serum. This is done without anesthesia. The calf might just have her throat cut as well (without a stunning blow to the head) and be processed alongside her mother. Mostly, the calves will be cut from their mother’s body and their skin turned into soft leather. That last link has a video. It’s graphic, you have been warned.

This year alone, CWT has paid for the slaughter of 225,000 cows. That’s almost as many cows they’ve paid to kill since they formed in 2003. Around 55,000 cows are being killed per week - that’s 7,850 cows a day or 327 cows every hour being slaughtered. Generally, around 2 million dairy cows are slaughtered annually, but at the current pace, another million - 3 million total - will be killed.

So who benefits from the CWT? Certainly not the cows and calves - they’re killed. The farmers who “retire” their herds? The money they get per hundredweight of their cows is hardly worth calling home about. It certainly won’t help the farmer retire. They have to sell their entire herd to benefit from the CWT program and they can’t use that money to buy more cows. Member groups certainly benefit. They’re buying into a system that winnows down a diverse group of farmers to a small, more homogeneous group of farmers (those big co-ops, primarily). They certainly benefit from less competition. That does not seem like a good thing for anyone.

Help give cows a real retirement by supporting sanctuaries and vegan outreach groups. Reduce the amount of money you spend on animal products, choose alternatives, try veganism. These are meaningful ways to help animals.

Visit 1800blogger to see all of our industry leading blogs.

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Chinese Govt Turns Up Heat on US Beef

Lawmakers turn up heat on US beef

By Ko Shuling, Jenny W. Hsu, Mo Yan-chih and Flora Wang
Thursday, Oct 29, 2009, Page 1

Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) legislators hold up signs at the KMT caucus office in Taipei yesterday in protest against the importation of ground beef and other cow parts from the US and demanding the rigorous inspection of other US beef products.

The legislature’s Judiciary and Organic Laws and Statutes Committee ground to a halt yesterday as Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) lawmakers insisted National Security Council (NSC) Secretary-General Su Chi (蘇起) deliver a report on the decision-making process behind a change on US beef imports and vowed to pursue a better deal.

The committee’s morning session got off to a rough start as the DPP asked that the agenda be changed from reviewing the Presidential Office and NSC’s budget requests to having Su report on the policy shift. DPP lawmakers said that the beef policy was more urgent than the budgets because the policy would be implemented next month but the budgets were for next year.

The DPP, however, did not have enough members to file such a motion.

The afternoon session was not much better. Cashing in on their numerical leverage, Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) lawmakers voted in favor of a proposal to prolong the meeting to midnight if necessary.

The session ended at 5:30pm after Su finally made it to the podium and said, “Please refer the council’s budget request to the written report. That’s all.”

During the morning session lawmakers were allowed to speak for three minutes each.

DPP Legislator Ker Chien-ming (柯建銘) demanded Su step down, President Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九) apologize and the government begin new negotiations with Washington. He promised to boycott the Presidential Office and NSC budgets if his demands were not met.

DPP Legislator Lee Chun-yee (李俊毅) criticized the protocol Taipei signed with Washington, saying it amounted to a humiliating surrender of the country’s sovereignty.

“Unless Su delivers a satisfactory report to the committee, we refuse to review their budget plans,” he said.

Describing Su as an “enemy of the state” and a “sinner of Asia,” DPP Legislator Liu Chien-kuo (劉建國) said it was amazing how the KMT administration ignored a legislative resolution demanding the executive branch obtain legislative consent before lifting the ban on US beef.

DPP Legislator Gao Jyh-peng (高志鵬), in a play on words, said in Hoklo (also known as Taiwanese) that Su made Taiwan “Su Su Ki” (輸輸去) or “lose everything” at the negotiating table and that the deal had cost Taiwan so much that it would have to “pull its pants down.”

DPP Legislator Chen Ting-fei (陳亭妃) said she would like to know exactly what the government offered to seal the deal, saying that Ma and Su were the masterminds of the policy and that the Department of Health was just a scapegoat.

DPP legislators William Lai (賴清德) and Kuan Bi-ling (管碧玲) both asked Su to tell the public once and for all whether he has a valid green card or US citizenship and if he has made a real effort to protect the health of the Taiwanese.

DPP Legislator Yu Tien (余天) criticized Premier Wu Den-yih (吳敦義) for being irresponsible for saying that it was up to the public to decide whether to eat US beef.

Yu asked if Wu would also lift the ban on marijuana and tell the public it was their decision whether to use it.

DPP Legislator Tsai Huang-liang (蔡煌瑯) criticized the administration for being incompetent in domestic affairs, obedient to China and weak in foreign affairs.

KMT lawmakers, however, criticized the former DPP administration for violating a 2006 legislative resolution to allow the import of US beef, although they said the resolution was “not legally binding.”

KMT Legislator Wu Ching-chih (吳清池), however, said he was “100 percent” against lifting the ban on cow intestines. He also demanded American Institute in Taiwan (AIT) Director William Stanton apologize for comparing eating beef with motorcycle accidents.

Stanton said on Tuesday that “when you look at the risk, statistically, [in contrast to] no cases of mad cow disease [reported in the US], well, one might conclude that one should stop driving motor scooters because of the risk.”

KMT lawmakers asked Su to comment on both the green card allegation and the uproar over beef imports.

Su first denied that he had a green card and then dismissed the allegation that there had been any trade-offs in the negotiations. He also ruled out the possibility of relaunching negotiations, saying it would be a significant blow to the country’s credibility and reputation.

Criticizing the foreign policy of the former DPP administration, he said the KMT administration was trying to turn things around. He said the country must make friends with the US, Japan and China and that there would be more negotiations in the future including an economic cooperation framework agreement with Beijing.

As for the decision making on US beef import, he said Ma gave only three instructions: safety, safety, safety.

“Our priority is the health of the Taiwan people,” Su said. “The Americans thought we were very tough at the negotiating table.”

A one-year study by the government concluded that the risks posed by bone-in beef, intestines and ground beef were miniscule, so the administration decided to follow the “South Korean model” and partially lift the ban on US beef, he said.

While a US report claimed that government officials would review the 30-month age limit for cows and consider full trade access 180 days after the new protocol takes effect, Su said this was “misinformation.” Taipei and Washington would review the “implementation” of the policy, he said.


Wu Den-yih also dismissed the need for the government to renegotiate the deal.

Wu told reporters yesterday that said he respected beef importers’ decision not to apply for imports of US cow’s internal organs and ground beef. He also rebutted media speculation that there had been any under-the-table deals with the US.

“The government would never sacrifice the health of the people in exchange for [something] from the US,” he said.

Meanwhile, KMT caucus members continued to voice their opposition to the import plan. Caucus secretary-general Lu Hsueh-chang (呂學樟) suggested that the legislature pass a resolution to empower the government to delete cow’s internal organs from the list of beef products allowed to enter Taiwan.

Cheng Ru-fen (鄭汝芬), caucus deputy secretary-general, called on housewives to boycott cow’s internal organs from the US.

President Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九) also defended the government’s decision to relax import restrictions, while promising to respect any boycotts.

“The government will not exchange the people’s health for anything with foreign countries. Any products we import will comply with both local and international health and safety regulations,” Ma said at a KMT event yesterday.

He said the government agreed to import US ground beef, bone-in beef and internal organs to follow the rules in bilateral negotiation as a member of international organizations.

“The negotiations were made to seek more space for the country’s participation in international society,” he said.

Ma said the government would act as the “gatekeeper” to ensure public safety, but said: “We respect any consumers who decide to adopt higher standards or take certain action.”


Taichung Mayor Jason Hu (胡志強), a KMT member, announced yesterday that US beef or beef products would not be served in school lunches in his city.

“I accept the government policy but execution of the policy would be a different story, because public health must be the foremost priority. The central government should publish a list of US beef exporters and the history of the cattle for every meat shipment,” the mayor said.

The DPP’s Tsai said there was no way to ensure the public would be safe unless such imports were banned.

“No matter how local governments or vendors try to exercise self-monitoring, it will never be completely foolproof. The public might still end up consuming meat and internal organs without knowing,” Tsai said.

Restaurant owners, however, have mixed feelings about the controversial imports.

Sabrina Yu (尤君惠), the manager of Frank’s Texas Barbecue, a steak house in Taipei County that only serves US beef, said the restaurant welcomed the lifting of the ban on bone-in beef such as T-bone steak or ribs, but such items would not appear on its menu until they have been proven to be risk-free, she said.

A beef noodle shop owner in Tamsui Township (淡水) surnamed Chao said he was willing to use imported cow organs from the US such as tripe as long as the price was reasonable and the customers liked the flavor.

“Of course I am worried that some customers who are more politically minded might refuse to eat at my restaurant. But this is a business and if the internal organs from the US are safe and cheap, then I will use them,” he said.

Jeffrey Chen (陳毅達), a graduate student who lived in the US for nine years, said he was not worried about mad cow disease in US beef but still refuses to buy the meat because “it would be supporting a policy that I strongly disagree with.”

The Ma administration should have asked for more from the US before signing the deal, he said.

Also See: EDITORIAL : US beef and the curse of Yu Wen

Pig Farmers Cry "Fowl" to USDA; ask for $$$ and Help

Pig producers in Washington, crying for money from the USDA and help from Congress
October 28, 2009 at 2:12 pm by Brian Ries

According to this Reuters article, “Hog producers have lost, on average, nearly $23 for each hog marketed since September 2009, ‘and things look bleak going forward,’ said NPPC president Don Butler at House Agriculture subcommittee hearing.”

You might want to blame this porcine problem on idiots who believe that they’ll contract H1N1 from ham, but the National Pork Producers Council website actually says that the industry has lost $23 per hog since September, 2007. What? Amidst the greatest outpouring of love for the humble pig by restaurant chefs, television food celebrities and people like me, pig ain’t selling?

Actually, sales haven’t been the real problem until recently. Grain prices started rising dramatically during the international food crisis that started a couple of years ago, thanks to the rise of environmentally unstable bio-fuels. And that grain makes up 60 percent of the cost of raising a hog, according to the NPPC. Add in a ban on U.S. pork imports by China and Russia — ostensibly because of H1N1, but more likely political maneuvering — and the industry suffers.

Why, you may ask, should I care?

On one hand, you shouldn’t. Industrialized pork production is a terrible blight on animal well-being and the environment, so seeing Boss Hog Ag companies suffering might be icing on your bacon brittle. If prices rise — which they would, economically speaking, if our food supply system wasn’t so fucked up — then fewer people will eat the mass-market meat. At that point it’s easier for consumers to justify seeking out local pork, which tastes better, is better for local economies and usually better for the environment and the pigs. That would encourage more local farms to get into the act, completing the cycle. Everyone wins! Well, for everyone but Big Ag.

Problem is, pork producers are in Washington on bended knee to ask Congress and the USDA to step in and spread some of that deficit dough around. One way to help prop the industry is for the USDA to buy a big lot of hogs for its commodity program, which would then be distributed to food banks and school lunch programs. The NPPC also wants to remove some of the incentives in place for ethanol and bio-fuel production, relaxation of certain regulations governing production methods, and help with foreign trade negotiations.

Under that plan, Boss Hog Ag wins and consumers come out with a mixed bag. More donated food for food banks? Good, although that money would likely be spent on food anyway. More exposure and investigation into the impact of bio-fuel supports? Good. More freedom for factory farms to raise pigs in even worse conditions? Bad. Money spent to prop up an ailing agricultural industry? Probably bad.

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Swine Flu: Another Case of Human to Pig Transmission

A ProMED-mail post

ProMED-mail is a program of the
International Society for Infectious Diseases

Date: Tue 27 Oct 2009
Source: OIE's Weekly Disease Information Vol. 22 - No. 44 [edited]

Information received on 27 Oct 2009 from Mr Halldor Runolfsson, Chief
Veterinary Officer, Ministry of Agriculture, Agricultural Authority
of Iceland, Selfoss, Iceland

Report type: Immediate notification
Start date: 24 Oct 2009
Date of 1st confirmation of the event: 27 Oct 2009
Report date: 27 Oct 2009
Date submitted to OIE: 27 Oct 2009
Reason for notification: Emerging disease
Morbidity: 10 percent
Mortality: 0 percent
Zoonotic impact: Possible transmission of the influenza virus between
humans and pigs
Causal agent: Pandemic influenza A/H1N1 virus
Serotype: Other
This event pertains to the whole country

New outbreaks
Summary of outbreaks
Total outbreaks: 1
Location(s) : GULLBRINGU (Minni-Vatnsleysa, Vogar)
Total animals affected
Species / Susceptible / Cases / Deaths / Destroyed / Slaughtered
Swine / 4500 / 10 / 0 / 0 / 0

Source of the outbreak(s) or origin of infection: Possible
transmission from human to pigs
Epidemiological comments: Clinical signs commenced on 24 Oct 2009
with 10 sows off feed, temperature greater than 40 C, some were
coughing, and 2 aborted. Two workers had had flu-like symptoms for a
few days prior to the clinical signs in the pigs.

Control measures
Measures applied: Quarantine, Movement control inside the country,
Vaccination prohibited [see comment] , No treatment of affected
Measures to be applied: No other measures

Diagnostic test results
Laboratory name and type: Institute for Experimental Pathology at
Keldur, Iceland (National laboratory)
Tests and results
Species / Test / Test date / Result
Swine / reverse transcription - polymerase chain reaction (RT-PCR) /
27 Oct 2009 / Positive

Communicated by:

[Iceland is the 10th country reporting infection of pigs, in
commercial farms, with the influenza pandemic A/H1N1 virus. The
previous countries were Canada, Argentina, Australia, Singapore, UK
(Northern Ireland), Ireland, Norway, USA and Japan. In all incidents,
humans were suspected to be the source of infection. The clinical
signs, in all cases, were rather mild. Though swine influenza is not
included in OIE's list of reportable diseases, these outbreaks were
reported as "emerging disease."

Infections have also been seen in turkeys, reported from Chile and
Canada; see posting 20091027.3719 and item 2 further. As in the
outbreaks in pigs, humans were suspected to be the source of
infection. The clinical signs in turkeys were reminiscent of those
seen in cases of low-pathogenic avian influenza, main losses caused
by a significant drop of egg production.

The term "vaccination prohibited" included among the control measures
may be confusing at times. This phrase is used in the OIE
questionnaire when vaccination is not applied, apparently
disregarding the reason. - Mod.AS]

Date: Tue 28 Oct 2009
From: Dave Halvorson

The prohibition of vaccine use [see comment to item 1 above] begs
further commentary.

What is a farmer to do to protect his breeder turkeys effectively
from a human virus? If government regulators have the answer to that
question, they should provide it. If public health personnel cannot
prevent the spread of novel H1N1 from person to person, then it is
unlikely that veterinarians can devise strategies to prevent human to
animal transmission. Biosecurity cannot protect turkeys from people
who are incubating or sick due to novel H1N1.

The economics of producing turkey hatching eggs involves hens valued
at USD 40-50 at the parent flock level. Influenza largely stops all
egg production, which means this hen now becomes worth next to
nothing. So 5000 turkeys lose up to USD 250 000 in value almost

David A. Halvorson, DVM
Diplomate, ACPV
Professor Emeritus
College Of Veterinary Medicine
University of Minnesota
Saint Paul, Minnesota 55108

[The situation described by Dr Halvorson resembles the scenario of
non highly pathogenic avian influenza in turkeys; it remains to be
seen whether an inactivated novel/pandemic H1N1 animal vaccine, when
becoming commercially available, would be allowed. As indicated in
OIE's Manual, since the 1970s in the USA, there has been some use of
inactivated vaccines produced under special license on a commercial
basis. These vaccines have been used primarily in turkeys against
viruses that are not highly pathogenic but that may cause severe
clinical signs, especially in exacerbating circumstances. Significant
quantities of this vaccine have been used. In recent years in the
USA, most of the special license inactivated vaccine has been used in
breeder turkeys to protect against H1 and H3 swine influenza viruses.
Conventional vaccination against the prevailing strain of LPAI has
also been used in Italy for a number of years. Vaccination against
H9N2 infections has been used in Pakistan, Iran, China, as well as
several countries in the Middle East. - Mod.AS]

[see also:
Influenza pandemic (H1N1) 2009, animal (18): Canada (ON) avian, OIE
Influenza pandemic (H1N1) 2009, animal (17): Japan (OS) swine, OIE
Influenza pandemic (H1N1) 2009, animal (16): Canada (ON) avian 20091022.3629
Influenza pandemic (H1N1) 2009, animal health (15): USA (OR) ferret
Influenza pandemic (H1N1) 2009, animal health (14): Canada (ON),
avian 20091020.3602
Influenza pandemic (H1N1) 2009, animal (13): USA swine, conf. 20091020.3600
Influenza pandemic (H1N1) 2009, animal (12): USA swine, susp 20091019.3592
Influenza pandemic (H1N1) 2009, animal health (11): Norway 20091019.3589
Influenza pandemic (H1N1) 2009, animal health (10): Ireland 20091002.3427
Influenza pandemic (H1N1) 2009, animal (09): UK (NI) swine, OIE 20090918.3280
Influenza pandemic (H1N1) 2009, animal health (08): Singapore, swine
Influenza pandemic (H1N1) 2009, animal health (07): Chile, avian 20090829.3036
Influenza pandemic (H1N1) 2009, animal health (06): Canada, swine 20090828.3027
Influenza pandemic (H1N1) 2009, animal health (05): Austr., swine 20090826.2999
Influenza pandemic (H1N1) 2009, animal health (04): Chile, avian, OIE
Influenza pandemic (H1N1) 2009, animal health (03): Chile, avian, RFI
Influenza pandemic (H1N1) 2009, animal health (02): Austr., swine 20090820.2951
Influenza pandemic (H1N1) 2009, animal health: Canada (QC) 20090729.2661
Influenza A (H1N1): animal health (17), Argentina, OIE 20090703.2401
Influenza A (H1N1): animal health (16), Argentina, swine, OIE 20090626.2322
Influenza A (H1N1): animal health (15), Egypt, pig cull 20090617.2241
Influenza A (H1N1): animal health (14), EU preparedness, Egypt 20090615.2220
Influenza A (H1N1): animal health (13) swine, Canada, origin, RFI 20090615.2215
Influenza A (H1N1): animal health (12) swine trial inf. 20090605.2088
Influenza A (H1N1): animal health (11) swine trial inf. 20090604.2067
Influenza A (H1N1): animal health (10) swine, Canada, cull 20090514.1813
Influenza A (H1N1): animal health (09), swine, Canada 20090513.1790
Influenza A (H1N1): animal health (08), food safety, FAO/OIE/WHO 20090507.1710
Influenza A (H1N1): animal health (07), swine, Canada, OIE 20090506.1691
Influenza A (H1N1): animal health (06), Canada, OIE 20090505.1683
Influenza A (H1N1): animal health (05), swine, Canada, FAO 20090505.1680
Influenza A (H1N1): animal health (04), infected swine, Canada 20090502.1653
Influenza A (H1N1): animal health (03), Egypt, pig cull 20090502.1649
Influenza A (H1N1): animal health 20090430.1637
Influenza A (H1N1), "swine flu": animal health (02), Egypt,
prevention 20090429.1623
Influenza A (H1N1), "swine flu": animal health 20090428.1604]

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