July 17, 2006 - It is Time for us to Catch Up

Here’s the story. Earlier this month Canadian officials announced another case of Mad Cow Disease in their country, the country’s sixth native-born case of the disease since 2003. They also stated it was an older cow, born before the 1997 ban on the use of cattle protein in cattle feed.

Following the announcement, guess what. It did not make the front page of any big city newspaper; it did not make it on network television news; it did not send cattle futures markets at the Mercantile Exchange into a tailspin. About the only area it received attention was agricultural media.

So finally, my wish expressed several times on Samuelson Sez over the years, that this be treated as a non-story, is finally being granted.  There are so many other disease, weather and insect problems that deserve far more attention than the announcement of a case of Mad Cow Disease.

The Department of Agriculture said, and I quote, “Based on our confidence of the food safety measures in place in Canada and previous audits of the system, we have determined that it is not necessary to send any U.S. experts to participate in this investigation at this time, and we do not expect the latest case would cause any disruption in our trade in beef or beef products in Canada."

Canada, incidentally, opened it’s border earlier this month to all U.S. cattle. The United States accepts imports of younger cattle and beef, from cattle 30 months or younger. But finally, it is not a major story and it does not have major impact on the industry.

But to me it does point out the need for a National Animal I.D. program in this country. That proposal continues to generate controversy as I learned in some of the “hate mail", really nasty mail, I received a few months ago when I did a Samuelson Sez urging a National Livestock I.D. program.

As you look at livestock producing countries of the world, there are really only three major countries that do not have a national livestock I.D. program. Those countries are Brazil, South Africa and, of course, the United States.

All the major beef-exporting countries competing with us in the world market have had a National Livestock I.D. program in place for several years. It is time for us to catch up and not be left at a competitive disadvantage in the world market.

My thoughts on Samuelson Sez.