Meatpacker Not Taking USDA’s No For An Answer

Discussion
Apr 15, 2004
George Anderson

By George Anderson

Creekstone Farms Premium Beef isn’t happy with the U.S. Agriculture Department’s decision last week to prohibit the company from privately testing its own cattle for bovine spongiform encephalopathy (aka Bse; aka mad cow disease) and it is taking its gripes with the agency public.

The company made public a letter it wrote to protest the USDA’s decision, last week saying it could test all its cattle at a fraction of the cost estimated by the department.

According to a Reuters’ report, “The USDA plans to test more than 200,000 cattle at a cost of about $70 million. The company (Creekstone Farms) has built a private laboratory at its plant in Arkansas City, Kansas, and says it can test for $18 per head, compared with USDA tests at $325 per head.”

Creekstone is willing to take this action because it has been hurt by the Japanese ban on beef imports from the U.S. The Japanese want all cows tested. The government holds this is not necessary and plans to test what it considers to be a representative sample (200,000) out of the roughly 35 million cattle slaughtered in the U.S. annually.

Bill Fielding, Creekstone’s chief operating officer told Reuters, “We are definitely going to fight this. Within a week we will be taking some action, but we are still trying to determine the best way to go about that.”

Moderator’s Comment: What is your reaction to the USDA decision to prohibit Creekstone Farms and others for doing
their own tests for Bse?

We understand the rationale for an objective third party to do the testing and make sure the evaluation process is not compromised.

That said, however, Creekstone says it’s running the same test as the USDA and it will cost $18 a head. What we’d like to know is where the government to
came up with the $325 number.
George
Anderson – Moderator

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