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Test EVERY Cow in the Food Chain

Test EVERY Cow in the Food Chain
Like Other Countries Do

Monday, February 16, 2009

Mad Cow Proposal Worries Farmers / USDA Does Right (for a change) and Farmers Cry "Foul"

My take upon first reading of this article is that the USDA is (finally) taking steps in the right direction to remove certain "suspect" body organs (brains, spinal cords, etc) that are usually rendered into animal protein to be fed-back to cattle (and/or pet foods)--to remove them from the recycling process as this "cannibalistic" practice is known to be a cause of how MC is spead. Farmers cry "hardship" foul! Dont they know that this would be a good thing? Of course not, that is, based on the statements below that indicate the farmers think that MC is not a problem in the USA. Could that be due to our inadequate testing methods? Duh,...let me think. Maybe they (the USDA) dont wanna know.

Mad cow proposal worries farmers
New rule could limit rendering

By Gregory A. Hall • • February 15, 2009

FRANKFORT, Ky. -- Some farmers in Kentucky, which has more beef cattle than any other state east of the Mississippi River, are concerned about a proposed federal regulation that would prevent rendering many cow brains and spines into animal food.

Rendering is the cheapest option for disposal of dead cattle. But the federal rule, aimed at preventing the spread of bovine spongiform encephalopathy, or mad cow disease, would cover many more animals, making rendering more expensive and complicated, farmers said.

Kentucky legislators plan to ask federal officials to delay implementation, which is set for April, through a resolution filed by Rep. Tom McKee, D-Cynthiana and chairman of the House Agriculture and Small Business Committee.

Both the House and Senate agriculture committees have held hearings on the federal regulation this legislative session. Cattle-industry participants argue that the regulation is overkill and will have unintended consequences such as more expensive hauling.

"We really haven't had a BSE issue in this country," Dave Maples, executive vice president of the Kentucky Cattlemen's Association, said in an interview.

One of the remaining options would be burial, but Maples said that the rock under his farm and many others in Central Kentucky means "you just can't do it, so that rendering service is great."

Many of the state's more than 2 million cows would be subject to the rule if they died, he said. The new rule covers all cows 30 months and older.

Composting and landfilling also would be allowed, but with landfilling, "I don't think the public wants that," Maples said.

"Rendering I think is by far the best. It does require a very good pickup system and a collection system," State Veterinarian Robert Stout said during a Senate Agriculture Committee meeting Feb. 5.

Many Kentucky counties have used grants to avoid soil and water problems by sending dead cows to to be rendered at Griffin Industries, based in Cold Spring, Ky. Nation Brothers of Shelbyville is a major hauler of the carcasses.

But whether that removal system can continue is in doubt because of the new regulation, said Marty Griffin, the chief operating officer of the company. Counties pay different fees based on distance, which he said could double under the new rule. The company also takes animals from Indiana and some parts of Tennessee.

Griffin said the company plans to shift the focus of its cattle rendering to fertilizer, instead of meat and bone meal.

If he can't sell enough fertilizer at a sufficient price, the company might drop that part of the business, he said.

"It's how our company got founded, but at the same time the end's got to justify the means," Griffin said.

Even if the system survives, the higher costs brought on by the rule concern regulators like Stout.

Higher costs result in lower compliance, Stout said, which will mean more complaints reaching his office.

"Compliance is dependent on a convenient and inexpensive system of animal disposal and pickup, and I think this rule severely threatens that," Stout said.

It also could impact animal diagnostic laboratories at the University of Kentucky and Murray State University, which rely on the hauling services to pick up the dead animals they examine, Stout said.

UK officials told legislators that the 3,000 or more animal necropsies at its lab each year result in 2.5 million pounds annually of animal flesh.

About 2.1 million pounds of that is rendered at a cost to UK of 4 cents a pound, university officials told legislators, for a total about $84,000. UK incinerates about 400,000 pounds at 50 cents a pound, or about $200,000.

Roger Thomas, director of the Governor's Office of Agricultural Policy, said meetings are planned with the Department of Agriculture to develop a state solution.

"We don't know what a statewide solution will look like," Thomas told the Senate committee.

Reporter Gregory A. Hall can be reached at (502) 582-4087.

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