|By Max Thornsberry|
|Saturday, 01 May 2010 12:04|
The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) was once our partner in disease prevention. For decades the U.S. livestock industry worked shoulder-to-shoulder with USDA to eradicate and control such diseases as foot-and-mouth disease (FMD), brucellosis, bovine tuberculosis (TB) and many others. And, USDA did a superb job of preventing disease from being reintroduced through our borders by imposing strict restrictions on imports of livestock and livestock products that could cause disease introduction.
Whatever happened to those good ol’ days?
In recent years, USDA has knowingly allowed the continued reintroduction of bovine TB by not adequately restricting imports of Mexican cattle that originate in areas with high rates of the disease. USDA has lifted its restrictions on the importation of older Canadian cattle even though its own risk evaluation predicts that we will introduce bovine spongiform encephalopathy (BSE) into the U.S. as a result. USDA has twice attempted to lift FMD restrictions for certain states within countries with long histories of FMD outbreaks. The agency attempted to do this through a process advocated by the World Trade Organization (WTO) and known as “regionalization.” Fortunately for domestic livestock producers, reports of FMD outbreaks in those countries forced USDA to withdraw its regionalization plans and our FMD import restrictions were restored in time to prevent FMD from entering our country.
As recently as December 28, 2009, USDA published a final rule declare South Korea free of FMD with an effective date of January 11, 2010. But, on January 6, 2010, South Korea began reporting new outbreaks of FMD, and USDA was again forced to back off. Despite these recent and notable failures associated with USDA’s efforts to regionalize countries with long histories of FMD outbreaks and to lift FMD import restrictions, USDA remains undeterred. It is bound and determined to allow products with a high risk for FMD into the United States.
Earlier this month, USDA announced its plans to regionalize the Brazilian state of Santa Catarina. Within the past five years, Brazil experienced outbreaks of FMD in a state that directly borders Santa Catarina and in a state in close proximity to Santa Catarina, which resulted in the depopulation of over 26,000 head of Brazilian cattle.
Over the past several years USDA has defied and ignored its congressional responsibility to prevent the introduction of animal diseases. Instead, USDA appears to be marching to the orders of a higher authority – the WTO – that is repulsed by the United States’ exemplary record of disease prevention and wants to lower the United States down to a standard consistent with the rest of the world. This should be the new definition of insanity.
This is wrong.
And, unless we cattle producers stand up to reverse USDA’s present course, disease prevention – our best and most effective means of protecting the health of our domestic livestock – will be but a memory for us to share with our grandkids.
I’m willing to do something about this. Are you?
Max Thornsberry, DVM, MBA is the President of R-Calf USA. R-CALF USA (Ranchers-Cattlemen Action Legal Fund, United Stockgrowers of America) is a national, non-profit organization dedicated to ensuring the continued profitability and viability of the U.S. cattle industry. R-CALF USA represents thousands of U.S. cattle producers on trade and marketing issues. Members are located across 47 states and are primarily cow/calf operators, cattle backgrounders, and/or feedlot owners. R-CALF USA directors and committee chairs are extremely active unpaid volunteers. R-CALF USA has dozens of affiliate organizations and various main-street businesses are associate members. For more information, visit www.r-calfusa.com or, call 406-252-2516.
Insanity Redefined by Max Thornsberry, DVM,
**Note from Freedom Advocates: The Global Biodiversity Assessment Report directed by the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) calls for urgent action to reverse the effects of unsustainable human activities on global biodiversity, including but not limited to the following:
(PAGE REFERENCES are from the hard copy 1,000+ page"Global Biodiversity Assessment Report" )
For more listings see What is Unsustainable?