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Japan Offended by USDA

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Mike

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If you saw a guy wandering around Washington, D.C., the night of June 10 with a bag over his head, it likely was USDA Secretary Mike Johanns.
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Just the day before, Johanns led a high-profile roundtable session in St. Paul, MN, to tout the confidence and security inherent in the U.S. and Canadian BSE surveillance and firewall programs.

The next afternoon, Johanns was in Ames, IA, touring the National Veterinary Services Lab. That's when news came to him that a Western blot test performed on tissue from an animal USDA cleared of BSE last November using the “gold standard” immunohistochemistry test had retested positive.

The news put Johanns on a plane back to D.C. for an 8 p.m. news conference to report the tissue sample would be dispatched to Weybridge, England, for definitive testing.

Beyond the potential downside of a second U.S. case of BSE, the news that USDA's Office of Inspector General (OIG) had either ordered or requested the retest put folks to wondering just who was in charge? After all, during Creekstone Farms' unsuccessful yearlong quest for USDA's okay to privately BSE test its cattle, the agency steadfastly had protected its singular authority, and repeatedly underscored the quality of its testing protocols.

Now, suddenly the nation learns USDA's authority and its testing protocols seemingly can be superseded by OIG. To add to the mystery, little has been said about exactly why OIG requested — or ordered — the retest on a previously cleared tissue sample.

By Monday, castigations of USDA were flying like bullets at a rappers' convention. The cattle markets took a hit on Monday morning, but recovered some lost ground by the end of the week.

“No matter how quickly or fully the market rebounds, many producers have suffered very real losses that will never be recovered,” Jim McAdams, National Cattlemen's Beef Association (NCBA) president, told Johanns in a private June 17 meeting. He said NCBA supports USDA's enhanced surveillance program, but the program “must operate under a consistent and established testing protocol.”

The June 10 news served to dissipate whatever steam was generated by the BSE Symposium just 24 hours earlier. Its purpose was to air disagreements and the science over reopening the U.S. border to Canadian live cattle.

Johanns said he hoped to “bring the industry back together” with the public symposium, and make a convincing argument that Canadian beef is safe and that the U.S. surveillance program works. He did bring the industry together but only to storm the Jamie L. Whitten Federal Building.

And there are likely other repercussions. While attending the BSE Symposium, I had the opportunity to lunch with correspondent Fumi Kobayashi of Tokyo-based Nippon TV, known as “The “NBC of Japan.” I chatted with her and her crew about their take on the sessions.

“My impression is that the U.S. beef industry is very much controlled by four or five big packers and it's all about money and connections to the central government — power and money,” Kobayashi said. “I think most big industries are like that but especially this beef industry, which doesn't open up a lot of information to other countries.”

She termed USDA as “the most difficult people we've ever encountered. It gives us the sense that they're just saying what they want to say and they just sort of look down at Japanese standards.”

The June 10 announcement likely did little to alter that impression.
 

Sandhusker

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"My impression is that the U.S. beef industry is very much controlled by four or five big packers and it's all about money and connections to the central government — power and money,” Kobayashi said. “I think most big industries are like that but especially this beef industry, which doesn't open up a lot of information to other countries.”

Boy, talk about hitting the nail right on the head.
 

CattleCo

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"My impression is that the U.S. beef industry is very much controlled by four or five big packers and it's all about money and connections to the central government — power and money,” Kobayashi said.

Sandy! You apparently do not raise Corn, Beans, or Wheat......talk about BIG GRAIN CORPS running the deal. Hell, the Grain Giants makes he Packers look like the welcome wagon! :roll:
 

STAFF

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Readers Write
USDA Isn't The Problem; BSE Is The Problem
The item, "The High Price Of BSE" in the July 11 BEEF Stocker Trends, was way out of line. You wrote:

"Those are the kinds of dollars at stake, as global trading partners, along with the industry, wonder if they can still accept at face value USDA's wink and nod that everything is under control. Each dollar lost demands the industry call USDA to account for its own ineptitude, as well as for allowing other government agencies to override its protocols. Last we checked, "Oops!" "Sorry!" and "We goofed" don't cover many checks."

USDA isn't responsible for the fact BSE is now clearly present in the U.S. cattle herd. If the latest case had been diagnosed last fall, when the animal was first tested, there still would have been a price to pay in terms of additional delay in obtaining renewed access to foreign markets. The fact the cattle industry is (annually) spending an additional $200 million for compliance with "interim final rules" (for things like removal of specific risk materials from cattle over 36 months of age, and keeping downer cattle out of the human food chain) is a big part of the reason the live cattle and futures markets did not react badly to the June 24 announcement.

Consumers believe USDA has things under control, and irresponsible statements like those in your editorial do nothing to bolster their confidence in the safety of beef. In fact, such statements pander to the lowest common denominator of opinion in the cattle industry.

USDA isn't the problem. BSE is the problem. You owe USDA (and everyone else) an apology.
Charles A. Hjerpe, DVM
Emeritus Professor of Veterinary Medicine
Davis, CA
 

Murgen

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My impression is that the U.S. beef industry is very much controlled by four or five big packers and it's all about money and connections to the central government — power and money,” Kobayashi said. “I think most big industries are like that but especially this beef industry, which doesn't open up a lot of information to other countries.”

The big four or five didn't cause you to get BSE, did they? Who did?

Hell when Canada was the only country in North America to have it, wasn't it the producers faults for causing it, and that's why RCALF, wanted the border shut, because we were negelgent?
 

redriver

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Mike said:
And there are likely other repercussions. While attending the BSE Symposium, I had the opportunity to lunch with correspondent Fumi Kobayashi of Tokyo-based Nippon TV, known as “The “NBC of Japan.” I chatted with her and her crew about their take on the sessions.



She termed USDA as “the most difficult people we've ever encountered. It gives us the sense that they're just saying what they want to say and they just sort of look down at Japanese standards.”

I guess she never talked to anyone from r-cult. If she had, the USDA would have looked pretty good in comparison.
 

Murgen

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You mean the American crew isn't that tactful in dealing with other countries? That surprises me!
 

Sandhusker

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Murgen said:
You mean the American crew isn't that tactful in dealing with other countries? That surprises me!

Have you noticed a great deal of tact in our handling of the Japan deal? I'm surprised they don't flat out tell us to hang it. I think they know the best deal is to delay us as long as possible before we bring the WTO in to force them to change their laws in the name of trade (just like SH says they can't do)
 

redriver

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Sandhusker said:
Murgen said:
You mean the American crew isn't that tactful in dealing with other countries? That surprises me!

Have you noticed a great deal of tact in our handling of the Japan deal? I'm surprised they don't flat out tell us to hang it.

I am especially inspired by the tact that r-cult has displayed. Yeah, right! Bunch of jack-asses.
 

Sandhusker

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redriver said:
Sandhusker said:
Murgen said:
You mean the American crew isn't that tactful in dealing with other countries? That surprises me!

Have you noticed a great deal of tact in our handling of the Japan deal? I'm surprised they don't flat out tell us to hang it.

I am especially inspired by the tact that r-cult has displayed. Yeah, right! Bunch of jack-asses.

And a fine example of tact you are, Buddy. :roll:
 

Murgen

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Sandhusker, ever get the feeling that other countries are getting tired of the US muscle, and are now flexing their own trade muscles?
 

Sandhusker

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Murgen said:
Sandhusker, ever get the feeling that other countries are getting tired of the US muscle, and are now flexing their own trade muscles?

Yep. Nobody likes a bully.
 

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