Scaling back mad cow inspections

Helen Palmer Jul 20, 2006
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Scaling back mad cow inspections

Helen Palmer Jul 20, 2006
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TESS VIGELAND: Today the Agriculture Dept will announce the end of expanded testing for mad cow disease. The department says fewer than one cow in a million is infected, so extra testing is no longer needed. But as Helen Palmer reports, some cattlemen disagree.


HELEN PALMER: Only three cases of mad cow disease have been detected in the 45-million strong US cattle herd. Yet 22 countries still ban the import of US beef for fear of the disease.

These include top importers like Japan, which used to spend a million dollars on US beef each month. Before mad cow, US beef exports topped $3 billion a year.

BILL BULLARD: In the entire year of 2005 our exports only ran at about $1billion.

Bill Bullard is CEO of R-Calf, a group that represents ranchers and cattlemen. He says the USDA’s jumping the gun.

BULLARD: It simply makes no economic sense to discontinue the testing program which is our way of instilling confidence in the minds of our customers.

The agriculture department says their expanded testing cost $192 million, about $250 per cow. Bullard says that’s nothing compared with their $2 billion in lost exports.

In Boston, I’m Helen Palmer for Marketplace.

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