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Pull the Scab

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PPRM

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I read and think and read a lot. Had dinner with some freinds last night and it became painfully clear I was the most read person on the BSE issue there. I am so read that anyone can make a point and I can make a pretty good counter-point, lol. And I am definetly not as read on the issue as many here. My point is a lot of people have some pretty uninformed opinions and they can be pretty adament.

The problem is this isn't a simple issue. Lots of good folks on both sides of many issues. I have sat pretty silent for a long time trying to digest opinions and facts and determine what mine were. They have changed and my opinion really isn''t the point here.

Let me preface this by saying I read Judge Cebul's decision and something became painfully clear to me. If we continue the road we have taken we will continue to have perodic postives pop up. Doesn't help anyone on either side of the border.

I think it is time to "Pull the scab". Does either country really know the extent of BSE in North America? We can all call the score as we see it, but what is out there? USDA has made one critical mistake and that has been they have stubbornly held to a position in the face of new BSE cases in Canada. This hasn't helped the Canadians and ultimitely, lead to a decision by a judge that really makes the US look bad in the eyes of Asia.

Some point to the cost of testing. Well, the uncertainty and the future possibility of positives after we continually say, "hey, we're ok,", that will also cost dearly. Do we know we aren't ok?? No. Do we know we are ok??? No. Then how do we know our future?????

I am not calling for 100% testing. But I think more testing is appropriate. Lets start with testing for where the biggest payback would be. That is cattle whose Beef is destined for Japan. Second biggest payback, cattle where SRM's are being removed. If we can test and keep the SRM's in, not only do they have value, but the rendered product would also have more value, my opinion. This second group also should give a truer idea of if there's a problem and the extent of it.

Who pays for it??? I like Creekstones idea of we think there's enough premium that we would pay for it. In the second group, not only do you get the SRM recovery, you could potentially get more premium from being able to stamp, "certified BSE free". I think part of paying for it includs a little extra for a fund I will descriibe below.

My guess, and admitedly it is a guess, we could get a market funded testing level of 10-15% our herds and have a truer picture of the problem. Hey, it creates jobs too. Heck, it creates an industry. Depending on what we find, we will better understand if we need to alter the testing levels.

Guess what?? This works for both sides of the border. One thing I have noticed, when a cow tests positive, we aren't finding herdmates in North America that also have it. I think that is important and my understanding is that is unique from the european situation.

What if they find it in a cow from my herd??? One of the greatest joys I get in this business is producing a product that I think is good and has integrity behind it. I think most of us would rather be doing something else than making something if we find it would cause pain or injury to others.

Here's where the extra testing charges comes in and the cases where herdmates have come up negative. If they find a cow from my herd, this premium fund acts as insurance. In subsequent testing, the meat is not arbitrarily destroyed. These cases so far have shown it is probably good meat. I still get paid for the meat that is tested safe and the insurance fund helps me rebuild.

If you think this is going to be massively expensive, that means you think we have a huge number of cases. If so, we need to be testing more.

I have thought long and hard on this. I think what I am saying has a ton of benefits. We would have a market-funded program that helps us accomplish a lot. It tells us a truer extent of the problem if there is a problem. It gives consumers more confidence and helps us recapture lost export markets. It also may help boost domestic sales.

I am not arrogant enough to think I have the answers cornered. I appreciate feedback and hope this post is seen as being from someone who is trying to deal with this with integrity. As such, I welcome feedback that is placed with the same integrity and especially solution-based feedback.

I do see the road we are on creating tons of volatility and market fluctuations because as it is, there is too much uncertainty. Both side of the border make a product much too good to have to continually live with this,

I also feel this issue has caused to many strained relations, both personal and nationallly. It appears to me that the gut feel is at most, there's only a handfull of cases out there. It is the not knowing that causes fear and ,ultimately, discord. Let's get rid of the fear and go back to an iindustry that is moving forward,
 

whiteface

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Wow! You want feedback?! I'll give it to you! Awesome post! I back you one hundred percent. Have a good day!
 

Mike

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When asked "how many BSE cases could be FOUND in the US" one of the authors of the "HARVARD-TUSKEGEE RISK ASSESSMENT" concluded that as few as 1 and as many as 2000 could be found in the US herd.

The USDA should have used the "Risk Assessment" and taken a WORST CASE SCENARIO stance in eliminating and detecting BSE in the US, which is commonly done in the field of science. Had the USDA done this and the CFIA followed we probably would not be having this argument here today.


Your thoughts are well received Pat.
 

Tommy

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Great post Mike. I agree, lets test more to find out if any are out there. So should Canada. It seems to me that they would want more testing done to prove they are finding all BSE infected cows.
 

Soapweed

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Great post, PPRM. All of your ideas show merit and functional possibilities.

PPRM: "We (by testing more for BSE) would have a market-funded program that helps us accomplish a lot. It tells us a truer extent of the problem if there is a problem. It gives consumers more confidence and helps us recapture lost export markets. It also may help boost domestic sales."

There is no reason, to my way of thinking, that Creekstone or anyone else shouldn't be able to test for BSE. This is America, and free enterprise should prevail. This is just another way of producing "value added" beef.

USDA should either "lead, follow, or get the heck out of the way". If they can't properly lead, then they should step aside and let private free enterprise do what is necessary to keep the Beef Industry viable.

I don't like the strong arm tactics of R-Calf, either. The Canadians are a great bunch of people and they raise high quality cattle and good-tasting beef. R-Calf has not treated the Canadians very nicely, and this could very well come back to haunt those of us who are ranching on the U.S. side of the border. What goes around, comes around. Like Big Muddy inferred, I was "just a wagon ride" away from being a Canadian rancher myself. If we don't open our border to Canadian cattle, the Japanese and others won't ever buy our beef.

PPRM, you have a good line of reasoning. I would be in favor of nominating you to a position of leadership in the Bush Administration, in the Cattle Commerce and Beef Quality Development Department. Here's to ya (as I raise my glass).
 

PPRM

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Thanks Soap,


I enjoy reading your stories a bunch. I can feel the stories because there were a lot of guys like you in Wallowa County where I grew up. A great appreciation for what they had, they really helped shape and mold me. They had great integrity along with the great sense of humor.

Hope you continue to get to enjoy your family and what you have,

PPRM
 

PPRM

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Oh, Soap, the Washington thing. .......

One thing I took from thise guys I grew up with was a real dislike for Arrogant, pompous suit type that tend to become Lawyers, Lobbyists and politicians, or worse yet, all the above. I tend to be an extremely civil guys, but might go to fists a few times if overexposed to thise types. Of course, that could make a guy more popular and powerful, lol,
 

101

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Great Post !!! I have been reading this site, and the old one for over a year, and this one is the closest to my feelings yet. Just had to let you know how I felt about it! I do think we will have only ONE CHANCE to get this BSE ISSUE right with the consummers and for everyone in the Cattle Industry on both sides of the Border, I do not want to put blame on anyone on either side of the border of any cattle org. But our future depends on getting this right and we will have ONLY ONE CHANCE TO DO IT!! Virgil Smith,Milesville SD
 

sw

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PPRM,
great post. We need more people to do what you have done, read, learn, forge an opinion and come up with a solution. No name calling, no blame, but a possible solution. That is what we need right now, not courts and lawyers deciding our fate. Thanks
 

Jason

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PPRM said:
I am not calling for 100% testing. But I think more testing is appropriate. Lets start with testing for where the biggest payback would be. That is cattle whose Beef is destined for Japan. Second biggest payback, cattle where SRM's are being removed. If we can test and keep the SRM's in, not only do they have value, but the rendered product would also have more value, my opinion. This second group also should give a truer idea of if there's a problem and the extent of it.


Guess what?? This works for both sides of the border. One thing I have noticed, when a cow tests positive, we aren't finding herdmates in North America that also have it. I think that is important and my understanding is that is unique from the european situation.

I am not arrogant enough to think I have the answers cornered. I appreciate feedback and hope this post is seen as being from someone who is trying to deal with this with integrity. As such, I welcome feedback that is placed with the same integrity and especially solution-based feedback.

I do see the road we are on creating tons of volatility and market fluctuations because as it is, there is too much uncertainty. Both side of the border make a product much too good to have to continually live with this,

I also feel this issue has caused to many strained relations, both personal and nationallly. It appears to me that the gut feel is at most, there's only a handfull of cases out there. It is the not knowing that causes fear and ,ultimately, discord. Let's get rid of the fear and go back to an iindustry that is moving forward,

I agree with the intent of your post PPRM, but a couple things to consider.

Where is the biggest payback in testing? Is it really Japan? Most have acknowledged Japan is using this as trade leverage. Let's set that part aside. The real goal is to eradicate BSE in North America. The testing needs to be done on the higest risk cattle. Downers, or sick cattle of over 30 months.

Testing all OTM cattle isn't getting the target population, feeders that are just 30 months still would be very rare to have bse. Older cows are the target, but if we slaughter and test them, the srms need to be pulled before a test, if you cut the spine to test you negate the benefit of removal of the srm.

I don't have all the answers either, but Canada has done an amazing job of testing high risk cattle and reporting positives in an open frank manner.
 

Tommy

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Soapweed...If we don't open our border to Canadian cattle, the Japanese and others won't ever buy our beef.

We are taking beef under thirty months of age right now. Why would taking their cattle too open the Japanese door? They just want beef under 20 months of age.
 

Bill

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Jason said:
PPRM said:
I am not calling for 100% testing. But I think more testing is appropriate. Lets start with testing for where the biggest payback would be. That is cattle whose Beef is destined for Japan. Second biggest payback, cattle where SRM's are being removed. If we can test and keep the SRM's in, not only do they have value, but the rendered product would also have more value, my opinion. This second group also should give a truer idea of if there's a problem and the extent of it.


Guess what?? This works for both sides of the border. One thing I have noticed, when a cow tests positive, we aren't finding herdmates in North America that also have it. I think that is important and my understanding is that is unique from the european situation.

I am not arrogant enough to think I have the answers cornered. I appreciate feedback and hope this post is seen as being from someone who is trying to deal with this with integrity. As such, I welcome feedback that is placed with the same integrity and especially solution-based feedback.

I do see the road we are on creating tons of volatility and market fluctuations because as it is, there is too much uncertainty. Both side of the border make a product much too good to have to continually live with this,

I also feel this issue has caused to many strained relations, both personal and nationallly. It appears to me that the gut feel is at most, there's only a handfull of cases out there. It is the not knowing that causes fear and ,ultimately, discord. Let's get rid of the fear and go back to an iindustry that is moving forward,

I agree with the intent of your post PPRM, but a couple things to consider.

Where is the biggest payback in testing? Is it really Japan? Most have acknowledged Japan is using this as trade leverage. Let's set that part aside. The real goal is to eradicate BSE in North America. The testing needs to be done on the higest risk cattle. Downers, or sick cattle of over 30 months.

Testing all OTM cattle isn't getting the target population, feeders that are just 30 months still would be very rare to have bse. Older cows are the target, but if we slaughter and test them, the srms need to be pulled before a test, if you cut the spine to test you negate the benefit of removal of the srm.

I don't have all the answers either, but Canada has done an amazing job of testing high risk cattle and reporting positives in an open frank manner.

Jason from what I understand, you do not support testing all OTM animals in Canada. Are you willing to let the Canadian beef industry totally collapse because of principles? Judging by your posts I have seen I believe you are quite progressive but am afraid you are to willing to accept the status quo as the new reality of our country.
 

pharmer

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I agree totally with your premise PPRM that we will not know, at least in the short term, what the extent of BSE infection in North America is unless we test a significant number.

However, USDA APHIS and CFIA have repeatedly stated that testing does not guarantee a product is 'BSE Free' . Product could only state that they are BSE Tested. The crux of the matter is the sensitivity of the test can only detect BSE when prions reach a certain level in target tissues. Cattle must be in a latter stage of BSE in order for the test to pick them up. USDA and CFIA have therefore stated that removal of the tissue which would contain the abnormal prion from all potentially infected animals is the most effective way of protecting the consumer. Check out USDA response to R-Calf http://www.aphis.usda.gov/lpa/pubs/fsheet_faq_notice/r-calfstatement.pdf

The best way to determine the level of infectivity is to do what is done in Canada, which is to pay farmers, feedlots etc. to test any 4D animal (distressed, diseased, down, dead over 30 months). The owner of the cow will be compensated a token amount for calling in the vet to take a sample (who is also paid) and proper disposal of the animals is insured. In this way, cattle with the highest risk of BSE would be tested which will go a long way toward establishing whether there is a significant problem. This has been in effect in Canada since last summer I believe.
 

rkaiser

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:roll: I don't know how to use those quote things but Jason; when you talk of eradicating BSE in North America, I wonder what you mean by that. Do you really believe this crap about Canada contracting the disease from MBM brought in from the UK or one of those cows brought over in the 80's.

BSE can and does occur spontaneously, and if we tested every animal we would find similar results as the Japanese are finding; and so would the USA.

Transparency is the key. Hiding the facts from the consumer is becoming more of a tightrope walk every day.
 

Jason

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Jason from what I understand, you do not support testing all OTM animals in Canada. Are you willing to let the Canadian beef industry totally collapse because of principles? Judging by your posts I have seen I believe you are quite progressive but am afraid you are to willing to accept the status quo as the new reality of our country.

Bill you are correct that I do not support testing all OTM cattle.

Here is why. Our packing capacity is already below what we need. If we hold all OTM cattle for testing, besides the fact that we can't test before SRM removal, there will be a terrible back log of carcasses hanging, creating a backlog and increasing costs of processors that handle these cattle. The test might cost $28 but the back log could cost hundreds.

We have had offers to take our OTM cattle, China would take them untested...at 5 cents a pound.

Status quo suggests we are not making headway. I think we are. It is slow and painful, but those who survive will be stronger.

For the record I am not one of the wealthy ranchers that has everything paid for. I might be one who doesn't survive.


Randy, I don't think spontaneous BSE and what we have seen are one in the same. If they were, why has feed bans in each country where BSE has been discovered reduced the incidence? Why do only animals exposed to mammalian protien test positive? I am not discounting spontaneous occurance, but don't discount feed in occurance either. We still have lots to learn, but while we learn, SRM removal takes out the small risk for consumers and keeps beef the safest food around.
 

PPRM

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Jason, " Most have acknowledged Japan is using this as trade leverage"

This is the crux of our disagreement. JAPAN ALREADY TESTS EVERYTHING!!!! If they ask us to do the same, they aren't asking for anything they aren't asking of themselves.

I hear calls for a trade fight over this. WHY????????? If Japan has done some unfair things, lets fight them over those. This isn't one of them, not the right hill to die on.

I chose this program because it could get a high number of cattle tested and be self-funded. It would also ultimately be market driven in that if the premium wasn't high enough, then that would indicate it isn't an issue in the market anymore.

As far as backlog, two things. Carcasses hang in wait for a USDA grade right now. They hang in wait of aging. The other thing is Japan tests everything, yet to hear of it stopping production there. I have worked in food processing as a manager. This is simply a matter of waiting in process until release. Th wait is at a current parking spot.

SRM removal, if that's so, then that's so.

As far as certified free, vs. tested, fine, tested. I think we can use some other moniker than BSE that's more palatable.

Final thought. If McDonalds will pay $20/head for source verified, and what does that really tell anyone, how much more valuable would tested beef be???? I don't know, my thought is let the market tell us. In the process of colecting premium, we can get a handle on this,
 

PPRM

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Pharmer-The best way to determine the level of infectivity is to do what is done in Canada, which is to pay farmers, feedlots etc. to test any 4D animal (distressed, diseased, down, dead over 30 months). The owner of the cow will be compensated a token amount for calling in the vet to take a sample (who is also paid) and proper disposal of the animals is insured. In this way, cattle with the highest risk of BSE would be tested which will go a long way toward establishing whether there is a significant problem. This has been in effect in Canada since last summer I believe.

The best way? I have to disagree. Hasn't this been the slow and painful death to the Canadian Beef Industry? Ohhh, looks like it will open, Nooooo. Back to where we were but further behind.

I stand by pull the scab. Also, how does the market fund this current approach??? So far it seems to me the market has discounted this aproach. How many setbacks do you expect this year from this approach. I'd expect you to have 4 more. Sorry, I just can't agree that a slow and painful death is the best way,

I do thank you for the input as it made me think about it more,
 

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