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Voluntary testing for mad cow would help beef industry

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Well-known member
Feb 10, 2005
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Southern Manitoba
Study: Voluntary testing for mad cow would help beef industry

WICHITA, Kan., Apr 28, 2005 (The Canadian Press via COMTEX) -- The loss of export markets after the discovery of a case of mad cow disease in the United States cost the beef industry between $3.2 billion and $4.7 billion in losses last year, according to an economic impact study released Thursday.

The report, commissioned by the Kansas Department of Agriculture, also concluded that voluntary testing for the disease would have provided an economic gain to the beef industry despite the added testing costs.

Kansas Secretary of Agriculture Adrian Polansky said he requested the study because he had not seen any comprehensive research on the costs and benefits of U.S. Agriculture Department policy changes and the impact of lost exports following the country's first mad cow case.

"When we look at the slow progress in terms of (reopening trade) with Japan and South Korea, it may well be the end of 2005 until we see movement - and so those numbers enlarge significantly," Polansky said.

Kansas State University's Research and Extension Service released its 65-page report The Economic Impact of BSE on the U.S. Beef Industry, which looks at regulator costs, losses and consumer reactions after the December 2003 discovery of a mad cow case in Washington state. The cow had been exported from Alberta.

The report's most controversial finding is likely to be that profits from overseas markets would have more than paid for testing for mad cow disease, the common name for bovine spongiform encephalopathy, or BSE.

The U.S. Agriculture Department has been adamantly opposed to voluntary BSE testing, saying such tests would not identify mad cow in younger cattle and are not needed. The department has denied requests by some beef processors, including Arkansas City-based Creekstone Farms Premium Beef, to allow testing of all animals that come through their facilities.

Suzan Holl, a spokeswoman for the USDA's Animal Plant Health Inspection Service, said the agency could not comment Thursday because it had not yet had enough time to review the Kansas State study.

Kansas State researchers estimated it would have cost $640 million to test all cattle slaughtered in the United States last year, not counting the investment needed to equip processing plants for the testing. But if the U.S. were to regain just 25 per cent of the Japanese and South Korean export markets by testing 75 per cent of U.S. cattle slaughtered, it would essentially break even with its testing costs, the researchers found.

And if the U.S. could regain half those markets by testing just 25 per cent of its slaughtered cattle, the country's beef industry would be ahead by nearly $750 million, making an additional $22.84 per head.

"My view is that this analysis confirms voluntary testing for market access certainly would provide economic gain to the industry," Polansky said.

Polansky said if the U.S. could regain all of its lost 2003 exports by testing just 10 per cent of cattle, the beef industry would see a gain of $53 per head.

Days after the discovery of the United States' first mad cow case, 53 countries banned U.S. beef imports.

In 2003, U.S. beef exports were valued at $3.95 billion - accounting for 9.6 per cent of the country's commercial beef production, according to the Kansas Department of Agriculture. About 90 per cent of those exports went to five countries: Japan, Mexico, South Korea, Canada and Hong Kong.

While Mexico and Canada partially resumed beef imports last year, exports of U.S. beef in 2004 still ran 82 per cent below 2003 levels.

Polansky was encouraged that Taiwan, Kansas' fifth largest export market, recently resumed beef trade with the U.S. But he said beef producers need access to the Japanese market, which accounted for 35 per cent of the value of beef exports in 2003.
reader (the Second) said:
Here's MRJ's "cost-benefit analysis" miraculously appearing as she wrote those words...

Reader, the second, wouldn't you like to see an analysis by an entity that was not home to the Creekstone packing plant? Just to remove liklihood of bias.

Sorry, I get a bit sceptical. Especially where the testing for BSE is so critical. Just one example: mistakes happen too easily when complicated medical testing is placed into untrained or inadequately hands, which it seems would be necessary given the numbers of skilled or trained persons compared with the numbers of packing plants that would need to test if one was allowed to do so.

:)Even though I believe testing for BSE is a moot point, --- I am with you on this one Reader(the second). If a customer wants testing ----test. How much has this debacle cost the producers of cattle in this world? Money should not even be part of the argument. Test the damn things and lets get on with raising cattle.

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