Wednesday, March 17, 2004

where the cows are

You're no doubt wondering why I haven't mentioned the USDA's new mad cow testing program. I already did, last Wed. It is actually a relatively responsible approach, and would have been an excellent policy in, say, 1997. Japan has already said that it is not sufficient, which should come as no surprise to anyone. It is just astonishing that the USDA is too inept to accomplish their simple mandate of helping agribusiness at everyoe else's expense. Anyway, here are the details on the non-downer cows they are going to test:
The target population of clinically normal adult cattle (bulls, dairy cows, and other cows) comprised 17.8 percent of cattle slaughtered under Federal inspection. This is equal to approximately 6.2 million adult cattle. Out of this population, a total of 20,000 samples will be obtained from aged animals.
[The downers are irrelevant, because they've already been banned from human consumption]. So the result of all this hoopla is:
1. downers banned;
2. 20,000 cows tested annually;
3. A criminal investigation;
4. loss of beef exports.

Not bad from the consumer's point of view, but not great either. And we'll see what happens when they find more, which they will once the new plan goes into effect. Any minute now. Oh wait, they're not starting until Jan. 2005.


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