Morningland Dairy—The Final Solution

Morningland Dairy—The Final Solution

©Doreen Hannes 2013

The Door to Morningland Dairy Cheese House

The Door to Morningland Dairy Cheese House

On August 26th, 2010 the destruction of Morningland Dairy began. Having lost a two and half year battle with cancer of the State, the interment will take place on January 25th, 2013.

People involved in all aspects of food production, be it growing, processing or distributing, should read through all the documentation [found on this blog – Hen] and understand that Morningland’s saga is the model for all independent food production under the FDA’s new Food Safety Modernization Act. Critical to this destruction are “science-based standards” as opposed to scientifically accurate controls and concerns. The Global Food Safety Initiative combined with “Good Agricultural Practices” and the “Guide to Good Farming” will ensure that an inability to feed the population will occur.  Morningland Dairy is an early casualty of these “science based standards”.

Visions and Hopes-The Birth

Joseph and Denise Dixon took over Morningland Dairy after Denise completed a two year internship with the founders of Morningland, Jim and Margie Reiner. The Dixons finalized the purchase and began improvements on the Missouri Milk Board inspected and approved raw milk cheese plant in October of 2008. The entire family was tremendously pleased because this would allow Joseph to be home with the family instead of on the road working as an electrician in the eastern half of the United States.  The Dixons wanted to expand the varieties of cheese made by the company and ventured into a broader array of production.

Their desire was to help other families in the historically poverty stricken Missouri Ozarks to make an actual living on the farm and allow families to stay together. They consulted with the Missouri Milk Board and arranged for two families to begin providing goat milk to Morningland and launched a popular goat milk cheese line shortly after taking over the company.

Goat Cheese Ready for Labeling

Goat Cheese Ready for Labeling

Morningland had six employees and other farming families dependent upon the continuance of the cheese plant. On August 26th, 2010, it came to a screeching halt.

While Joseph and Denise were at a cheese making conference in Washington State, the plant manager received a call from the Missouri Milk Board stating that there was an issue of potential contamination found by the California Department of Food and Agriculture (CDFA) in Morningland cheese.

The cooler of $250,000 worth of cheese was immediately put under embargo, more accurately understood as house arrest, by the Missouri Milk Board. Don Falls, an inspector for the Milk Board, told the plant manager, “You should be back up and running by early next week.” Obviously, that wasn’t true. As a matter of fact, the very next morning, presumably after he spoke with the FDA, Falls’ entire attitude changed.

Over the weekend, the FDA leaked a nation wide recall on all of Morningland’s cheese produced in 2010. Not just the two batches that California indicated might be “suspect” for contamination, but their entire year’s production. Most of the cheese implicated as “suspect” by California had already been consumed. No complaints or ill effects were reported by any of the consumers of any of Morningland’s cheese. Nonetheless, the FDA required all of their products to be recalled.

 Cheese in Morningland's Cooler In Happier Days

Cheese in Morningland’s Cooler In Happier Days

Death by Bureaucracy

 Very few people realize the FDA has an armed and very military aspect. They showed up at Morningland in camouflage and made a lovely impression on those able to be at the unveiling of the future of food safety “FDA style”.

The FDA and Milk Board worked hand in hand to ensure that this little cheese plant in the midst of the Missouri Ozarks, that hadn’t made anyone sick in 30 years, would never make another batch of cheese for their loyal customers. Yet the FDA, who admit to killing 100,000 people a year, are allowed to gain ever more control over everything we take into our bodies. So the tally on deaths over the 30 year history of Morningland Dairy versus the FDA is:  Morningland “Zero”, FDA “3 Million”…or somewhere near that.

Despite significant effort, the FDA found no contamination in any cracks or drains in the cheese plant or even on the legs of the milk talk in the dairy barn. This evidence was not allowed to be introduced as part of Morningland’s defense because the Missouri Attorney General’s office contended that the FDA “was a separate issue.”

When pointedly asked what the specific process for getting the cheese plant back into production was, the Milk Board representative said it would involve a panel and consultation with the FDA to determine if that were a possibility. The members of the panel, other than the Milk Board and the FDA, and the specific requirements and processes were never delineated and no effort to achieve anything other than the destruction of the plant was ever evidenced by any official arm of the State of Missouri.

Neither the State of Missouri or the FDA ever conducted any tests on Morningland’s cheese. As a matter of fact, when Morningland tried to contract with a State approved lab to do proper tests on batches of their cheese, they were told that the lab simply did not want to get involved in the controversy. Morningland was denied the ability to legitimately test their product and defend their livelihood.

Adding insult to injury, Milk Board employee Don Falls testified in court and under oath that improperly collected cheese samples, taken with no supervision and no instruction by an employee of Morningland for the plant’s manager, were in fact the State’s own tests.  This remains a very sore point for Joseph Dixon. He says, “When one commits perjury and no one in authority will hold them accountable for it, that individual and the system they support are nothing more than liars and thieves. In this case, the theft is of our ability to provide for our family and is based on bearing false witness to harm people who have harmed no one.”

Real Life Costs

 While bureaucrats masquerading as “protectors of public health” continue to be paid every month for the tortures they put people through, those being raped and pillaged by the very system that is supposed to “protect” them have to somehow come to terms with the fact that their very own tax dollars are being used to continue the offense.

When it became clear to the Dixons that the Missouri Milk Board was unwilling to work with them toward any resolution that would allow the cheese plant to resume operation or allow for the least bit of recompense for the $250,000 of cheese in the cooler, not even deeming the cheese safe for ultra high pasteurization to be put into dog food, Joseph contacted his previous employer and went back to work as an electrician….away from his home and family.

The Dixons, parents to 12 children, steeled themselves to do what they admonished their children to do. To stand for what was right no matter what the odds against them were. After their appeal for trial by jury was denied, they knew that they would need to face a State Agency, represented by the State Attorney, in front of judges appointed by the State. While they hoped that truth would prevail and that reality would actually be addressed, they didn’t go into this battle wearing rose colored glasses.

Initially, after over five weeks of dumping milk, some of their adult children milked the cows and Morningland sold into the commercial pasteurized chain, trying to make the farm pay for itself. When milk prices plummeted and the cost of feed soared, the decision to close the milk barn down was made. But the Dixons still needed to make the payment on the property they couldn’t use to make a living with any longer. They also had to pay to keep the cheese cooler running as the cheese was still under house arrest and effectively a ward of the State.

With Joseph again away from home during the week, and all the expense of keeping things in tact on the farm, things were difficult. Then Denise’s father became bed-ridden and her mother broke her ankle, so Denise and the younger children went to Ohio to care for her parents.

While the State employees continued to collect their wages, Denise Dixon nursed her mother back to wellness and cared for her father until he passed away. During this time, she had to make a couple of trips back to Missouri to face charges of contempt and allegations of attempting to sell illegal product.

None of the human issues in the disruption of lives and the stress of such assaults by the State seem to be taken into account when figuring the costs of these kinds of actions.

Should one believe the deductions set forth by Missouri’s Courts in this case, and take as fact the aspersions and allegations cast against Morningland in the court transcripts, the conclusion could be drawn that the State was the “Knight in Shining Armor” protecting the unwitting public against immoral people trying to poison their customers with products they created to be harmful.

But the truth is, the truth of the matter doesn’t matter. At least not to agents of the State of Missouri, but the People of Missouri generally hold a different opinion.

“Admittedly,” says Denise, “some of the tactics employed and the characterization of us running a “filthy” facility with “diseased animals” stunned us, but our Father is still in charge, and our hope is not in justice being served in man’s system.”

The End is Near

After exhausting all appeals, the cheese, still being kept cool in the refrigerator at Morningland Dairy, is set to be fully destroyed by the agents of the State, the Missouri Milk Board, on January 25th, 2013.

Two and a half years later, one could reasonably argue that the untended cheese has already been destroyed, and to some extent, that would be accurate. Just imagine that you close your refrigerator door and don’t get permission to look into it for 2 ½ years. How would that look to you? While pickles or olives might still be alright, it is highly likely that your dairy products would be a little bit off after such neglect, right?

Denise Dixon said, “After 6 months, the Colby was already gone, and that was about one fourth of the total cheese inventory. After not tending to it, no turning, no repackaging, no monitoring, at least half the cheddar has been ruined. The destruction has already taken place. Our family business, our livelihood, and our ability to provide people with living, positive food has been destroyed.”

Morningland's Cooler Now

Morningland’s Cooler Now

The Missouri Milk Board has ordered two dumpsters to be delivered to Morningland Dairy. So the cheese, which is “not fit for dog food”, will be put into dumpsters and delivered to a landfill to be consumed by wildlife which evidently are immune to the pathogens feared to be present.

Morningland Dairy will never be in business again.

No offer has been made by the Milk Board to prescribe the conditions that would need to be met by the operators to allow them to resume business. The Judge presiding over the case originally did write a regulatory prescription from the bench that was completely implausible for anyone to meet. It included a requirement to insure that no milking animal had bacteria indicative of potential mastitis at all prior to milking the animal.

To put that one judicial regulation into perspective, allow me to draw a parallel for those unfamiliar with milking animals. You milk twice a day, every day. The milk is “commingled” into one tank. So, imagine this….before sending your child to school, you must take a nasal swab and have it cultured to ensure that your child is not harboring a potential bacterial infection before boarding the bus. You would have to pay for this lab technician to be present every morning and for the tests. When your child came home in the afternoon, the same process would be repeated. You would have the immense pleasure of paying for this and keeping the records to validate the bacterial level present at each measuring.

While the scenario imagined above may not be literally impossible, it is certainly improbable, and it would be impossible to have any profit above the cost of production in such a scenario. But that wasn’t all that this judge set forth as regulation for Morningland from behind the bench, with no comprehension of dairy production or cheese-making  The other prescriptions the judge made would have cost more than $100,000 in hard costs, with additional continuing costs for excessive testing during the cheese-making process. He also still required the destruction of all cheese in the cooler, not allowing any batches to be cleared through testing. Additionally, the Missouri Milk Board never indicated that they would accept Morningland returning to production even if they did comply with the Judge Dunlap’s outlandish prescriptions.

The Missouri Milk Board nor the FDA have offered any process by which Morningland might be allowed to resume business and the courts have seemingly upheld Judge Dunlap’s regulating from the bench.

The Battle Is Over

Joseph and Denise Dixon of Morningland Dairy have given everything to this fight. Battling the State wasn’t really about them at all, but about our nation, our freedom, and our ability to choose food for ourselves and for our families that is truly nourishing and real. They held nothing back, but finally, the repeated systemic attacks have run their full course, and the dreams, hopes and labors of love poured into Morningland have succumbed.

As Joseph Dixon has summarized, “The state of Missouri has 6 million people from whom they draw tribute (taxes), from which they could fight us. To fight them, we had 65 cows.  And the truth never seemed even to be a consideration, let alone a goal.”

The Dixons no longer have those cows. They no longer have the cheese. They no longer have the family business and have lost all Joseph’s retirement savings, which the cheese represented. They are left with a skeleton. A milk barn with no cows, and a cheese plant with no milk, nor permission to ever make cheese again.

On January 25th, friends and family will witness the pulling of the plug on the cooler and the removal of the $250,000 worth of food created to nourish but prevented from fulfilling it’s purpose by bureaucracy and science based standards that have no basis in true science.

Rest In Peace, Morningland. Righteous judgment will come.

http://uncheeseparty.wordpress.com/2013/01/18/morningland-dairy-the-final-solution/

The Effect of Political Correctness on Politics

By Warren Beatty

The late Charlton Heston once said, “Political correctness is tyranny with manners.”

The rationale of political correctness (PC) is to prevent supposed minorities from being offended (the manners) — to compel people (the tyranny) to avoid using words or behavior that may upset homosexuals, women, non-whites, the crippled, the stupid, the fat, the ugly, or any other minority group identified by those who define PC.  Its primary method is the redefinition or replacement of words and behavior in order to avoid offense, to be sensitive to the feelings of minorities.

Before we can examine PC and its effect on politics, we must first understand PC’s origin and purpose.

The concept of PC was developed at the Institute for Social Research, in Frankfurt, Germany, in the early 1920s.  The institute considered why communism in Russia was not spreading westward.  The conclusion was that Western civilization, with its belief that the individual could develop valid ideas, was the problem.  At the root of communism was the theory that all valid ideas came from the state, that the individual is nothing.  The institute believed that the only way for communism to advance and spread was to help Western civilization destroy itself, or else force it to.

The institute said that by undercutting Western civilization’s foundations by weakening the rights of individuals through the change of speech and thought patterns, by spreading the idea that vocalizing beliefs was disrespectful to others and had to be avoided to make up for past inequities and injustice, Western civilization could be destroyed.  The institute wanted to call its method something that sounded positive — thus “political correctness.”

Another communist, Chairman Mao Zedong, in China in the 1930s, wrote an article on the “correct” handling of contradictions among the Chinese people, thus giving us the PC concept of “sensitivity training.”

Today we can add socialism to communism.  Does the addition of that economic philosophy alter the original intent of PC in any way?

Here are two specific examples of PC and of not being sensitive.

First, a famous PC incident occurred in Washington, D.C. in 1999.  David Howard, a white aide to Anthony A. Williams, the black mayor of Washington, D.C., correctly used the word “niggardly” in reference to a particularly small budget item.  This reference upset one of his black colleagues, who interpreted it as a racial slur and lodged a complaint.  The use of the word “niggardly” was not PC due to its phonetic similarity to the racial slur “nigger,” despite the fact that the two words are etymologically unrelated.  Howard was not “sensitive” or PC. He actually resigned his job, but was reinstated after a national outcry over the conflation of unrelated terms.

The cited incident (and others like it) raise the question, “Are we now to abandon the use of certain useful words in the English language in the name of sensitivity and PC?”

We can now examine how PC specifically affects politics.

PC particularly serves mediocre politicians and the bureaucrats they appoint.  It is used to hold on to jobs, silencing critics and threatening anyone who questions their abilities.  If the offended party can strike back with accusation of racism, discrimination, prejudice, and hatred, then PC has done its job.  PC is a way of covering up incompetence and corruption.  It has worked well in the U.S. for decades: attack the accuser.  Benjamin Jealous, president of the NAACP, wrote, “Let me tell you something about political correctness: when politicians start overdoing it with PC, rest assured they’re either hopeless at what they do or have screwed everything up big time.”

The current uproar about the Health and Human Services (HHS) edict on birth control is a good example of the PC problem.  The HHS edict said it wanted to expand “health care preventive services.”  But that PC phrase included some services that were contrary to the First-Amendment guarantee of freedom of religion.  PC tends to eliminate any possibility of the discussion of the rightness and wrongness of a particular action through the restraint of free speech.

As a final example of PC run amok, consider this: Why have “swamps” been replaced by “wetlands”?  Why have “rainforests” replaced “jungles”?  Are they not the same things?  A government that wants to spend taxpayer money on conservation needs to avoid the negative connotations involving parasites and disease, so it redefines/replaces words in order to be more PC.  The preservation of wetlands is a much more noble cause than preserving a mosquito-infested swamp.

The continuing necessity for PC and sensitivity indicates that the ideal of societal equality (as defined by the PC-definers) has not yet been realized.

Where, ultimately, can PC take us?  One forecast was published in 1949 by George Orwell.  In his book 1984, Orwell, characterizing “newspeak,” wrote, “The destruction of words is a beautiful thing.”  Big Brother, the personification of the power of the state, through newspeak “simplified” words (gave them definitions he determined) to better control society.  With the simplification of words, the younger generations knew only Big Brother’s version of reality.  Is PC today’s newspeak?

Dr. Beatty earned a Ph.D. in quantitative management and statistics from Florida State University.  He was a (very conservative) professor of quantitative management specializing in using statistics to assist/support decision-making.  He has been a consultant to many small businesses and is now retired.  Dr. Beatty is a veteran who served in the U.S. Army for 22 years.  He blogs at rwno.limewebs.com.

Read more: http://www.americanthinker.com/2012/02/the_effect_of_political_correctness_on_politics.html#ixzz2IoYPHH8c
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Downsize Government

Memo ~~ USDA knows 18% of the beef consumed in the USA was imported
in 2011 because the nation does not produce enough product to feed
it’s people, yet more costly rulemaking is assessed upon producers
by bureaucrats. This document is vague and impossible to determine
the teeth, however, be assured, the devil is in the details. Once
Hammerschmidt gets this approved and mandatory he will personally
add the teath. There will be no more listening sessions or public
comments — the federales will have their way, regardless of the
majoritie’s oppositon.

Yesterday, USDA submitted it Animal Disease Traceability Rule to the
White House Office of Management and Budget for final review. See
Below.
This is one obstinate agency.

 

AGENCY: USDA-APHIS RIN: 0579-AD24TITLE: Animal Disease Traceability
Neil HammerschmidtSTAGE: Final Rule ECONOMICALLY SIGNIFICANT: No
** RECEIVED DATE: 04/25/2012 LEGAL DEADLINE: None
RIN Data
USDA/APHIS RIN: 0579-AD24 Publication ID: Fall 2011
Title: Animal Disease Traceability

Abstract: This rulemaking would establish a new part
in the Code of Federal Regulations containing minimum
national identification and documentation requirements
for livestock moving interstate. The proposed regulations
specify approved forms of official identification for each
species covered under this rulemaking but would allow such
livestock to be moved interstate with another form of
identification, as agreed upon by animal health officials
in the shipping and receiving States or tribes. The purpose
of the new regulations is to improve our ability to
trace livestock in the event that disease is found.

Agency: Department of Agriculture(USDA)
Priority: Other Significant
RIN Status: Previously published in the Unified Agenda Agenda Stage
of Rulemaking: Final Rule Stage
Major: No Unfunded Mandates: No
CFR Citation: 9 CFR 90
Legal Authority: 7 USC 8305
Legal Deadline: None

Statement of Need: Preventing and controlling animal disease is the
cornerstone of protecting American animal agriculture. While ranchers
and farmers work hard to protect their animals and their livelihoods,
there is never a guarantee that their animals will be spared from
disease. To support their efforts, USDA has enacted regulations to
prevent, control, and eradicate disease, and to increase foreign and
domestic confidence in the safety of animals and animal products.
Traceability helps give that reassurance. Traceability does not prevent
disease, but knowing where diseased and at-risk animals are, where they
have been, and when, is indispensable in emergency response and in
ongoing disease programs. The primary objective of these proposed
regulations is to improve our ability to trace livestock in the event
that disease is found in a manner that continues to ensure the smooth
flow of livestock in interstate commerce.

Summary of the Legal Basis: Under the Animal Health Protection Act (7
U.S.C. 8301 et seq.), the Secretary of Agriculture may prohibit or
restrict the interstate movement of any animal to prevent the
introduction or dissemination of any pest or disease of livestock, and
may carry out operations and measures to detect, control, or eradicate
any pest or disease of livestock. The Secretary may promulgate such
regulations as may be necessary to carry out the Act.

Alternatives: As part of its ongoing efforts to safeguard animal
health, APHIS initiated implementation of the National Animal
Identification System (NAIS) in 2004. More recently, the Agency launched
an effort to assess the level of acceptance of NAIS through meetings
with the Secretary, listening sessions in 14 cities, and public
comments. Although there was some support for NAIS, the vast majority of
participants were highly critical of the program and of USDA's
implementation efforts. The feedback revealed that NAIS has become a
barrier to achieving meaningful animal disease traceability in the
United States in partnership with America's producers. The option we are
proposing pertains strictly to interstate movement and gives States and
tribes the flexibility to identify and implement the traceability
approaches that work best for them.

Anticipated Costs and Benefits: A workable and effective animal
traceability system would enhance animal health programs, leading to
more secure market access and other societal gains. Traceability can
reduce the cost of disease outbreaks, minimizing losses to producers and
industries by enabling current and previous locations of potentially
exposed animals to be readily identified. Trade benefits can include
increased competitiveness in global markets generally, and when
outbreaks do occur, the mitigation of export market losses through
regionalization. Markets benefit through more efficient and timely
epidemiological investigation of animal health issues. Other societal
benefits include improved animal welfare during natural disasters. The
main economic effect of the rule is expected to be on the beef and
cattle industry. For other species such as horses and other equine
species, poultry, sheep and goats, swine, and captive cervids, APHIS
would largely maintain and build on the identification requirements of
existing disease program regulations. Costs of an animal traceability
system would include those for tags and interstate certificates of
veterinary inspection (ICVIs) or other movement documentation, for
animals moved interstate. Incremental costs incurred are expected to
vary depending upon a number of factors, including whether an enterprise
does or does not already use eartags to identify individual cattle. For
many operators, costs of official animal identification and ICVIs would
be similar, respectively, to costs associated with current animal
identification practices and the in-shipment documentation currently
required by individual States. To the extent that official animal
identification and ICVIs would simply replace current requirements, the
incremental costs of the rule for private enterprises would be minimal.

Risks: This rulemaking is being undertaken to address the animal health
risks posed by gaps in the existing regulations concerning
identification of livestock being moved interstate. The current lack of
a comprehensive animal traceability program is impairing our ability to
trace animals that may be infected with disease.

Timetable:
Action Date FR Cite
NPRM 08/11/2011 76 FR 50082
NPRM Comment Period End 11/09/2011
Final Rule 08/00/2012

Additional Information: Additional information about APHIS and its
programs is available on the Internet at http://www.aphis.usda.gov.
Regulatory Flexibility Analysis Required: No Government Levels

Affected: State, Tribal
Small Entities Affected: Businesses Federalism: No
Included in the Regulatory Plan: Yes
RIN Data Printed in the FR: No

Agency Contact: Neil Hammerschmidt
Program Manager, Animal Disease Traceability, VS

Department of Agriculture
Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service
4700 River Road, Unit 46,
Riverdale, MD 20737-1231
Phone:301 734-5571
______________________________________________________________________

 

Whose Country Is This?

by Lee Pitts

Lee Pitts is the Executive Editor of the Livestock Market Digest. His internationally syndicated columns and nine best selling books combine unflinching political commentary, humor, and serious livestock coverage with commentary blessed by a life time of experience. No one argues with Lee about the cattle business because he has been in the corrals and has scrapped a lot of "Stuff" off his boots many times. That is what it takes to gain authority, and he has.

There’s just something particularly galling about a secretive international tribunal telling a country, any country, what it can and cannot do. That’s especially true when a controversial trade organization tells us that we cannot inform the American consumer where her food came from.

According to every survey we’ve seen the vast majority of American consumers want labels on their food informing them of its origin. Some survey indicated that as many as 90 percent of American consumers want such country of origin (COOL) labels. Additionally, every survey we’ve ever seen indicates that the vast majority American ranchers also want the beef they raise to be labeled as being produced in the good old U.S. of A. So when American grocers finally began putting COOL labels on cuts of beef, lamb, chicken, pork, and hamburger it seems everyone got what they wanted. Everyone that is except the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association, the beef packer’s lobby, the National Pork Producers and an organization that most Americans know little about, the World Trade Organization.

Unfortunately for the ranchers and consumers it is this latter group, the WTO, who will decide whether or not American consumers and ranchers will get their wish to have the meat they produce and consume labeled as to country of origin.

How and why we in America ever gave an organization located in Geneva, Switzerland, the right to tell us what we can and cannot do is a dirty little secret being kept by supposedly patriotic American politicians, lobbyists and multinational American-based corporations who don’t want you to know any more about them than they do the food you eat.

I Pledge Allegiance To The WTO

Opponents of country-of-origin-labeling say it is nothing more than a protectionist trade measure that we are using to discourage imports. And these critics might have a point if all the food in the world was the same and was produced under the same rigid health and environmental standards. But clearly it is not. As proof we offer up milk from China that was contaminated with melamine, European and Canadian mad cows, four legged Mexican TB carriers and South American bovines with Foot and Mouth disease.

We’d like to point out amidst all the brouhaha that country of origin labeling does not stop one single animal from entering this country, nor does it prevent any country from selling us beef. Of these facts there can be no debate. What COOL does do is give the American consumer the ability to find out where the food she feeds her family came from. The decision on whether or not to buy foreign or domestic beef lies solely with her, not some bureaucrats at a meeting in Cancun. That’s why we were devastated after years of watching COOL work its way through the bureaucratic and political morass that after it was finally put in place the WTO said last November that it was illegal. Not according to American laws, but according to theirs.

I don’t remember the founding fathers ever mentioning the WTO, do you? I can’t find it anywhere in the Constitution or The Bill of Rights, nor do I recall ever getting a chance to vote on its leaders, or having a say in its proceedings. I can find no evidence that any of our founding fathers were members in good standing of the WTO.

Such is the sad state of American politics these days that we held out little hope that anyone in our government would challenge the WTO’s COOL ruling, so we were surprised and pleased when the office of the U.S. Trade Representative announced that it was appealing the WTO ruling against the U.S. mandatory COOL law.

One Family’s Food Fight

After COOL was put in place as a result of provisions in the 2008 Farm Bill, Canada then requested consultations with U.S. trade representatives in December of 2008 concerning their objections to it. Canada alleged at the time that the mandatory COOL was inconsistent with the United States’ obligations under the WTO Agreement.

Shortly thereafter, Mexico and Nicaragua announced they had problems with COOL, too, and requested to join the consultations. Then on November 19, 2009, a three-person WTO panel was formed and eventually came to the conclusion that yes, Canada and Mexico were right and that we had no right to implement COOL in the first place. The WTO panel determined that the COOL measure “is a technical regulation and that it is inconsistent with the United States’ WTO obligations.” In particular, the panel found that as a result of COOL we gave less favorable treatment to imported Canadian and Mexican cattle and hogs than to like domestic products.

By the words “less favorable treatment” we can only assume that the WTO meant that because American consumers would theoretically prefer domestic product over a foreign one, that COOL created a premium for U.S. beef and pork and a discount for Canadian and Mexican meat. Which, if you’ll recall, was the exact point made by COOL supporters to begin with. And the premiums recently being given to age and sourced domestic cattle seem to back that up, after all, those premiums are not all the result of our export market. Those cattle aren’t all being sold to Japan and Korea.

The WTO was created in the first place by one-worlders who think there should be no geopolitical boundaries and that we are all just one big happy family. To hear them tell it, all this fuss over COOL is just a food fight amongst family members.

A party can appeal a WTO panel’s ruling and due to the marriage of big business and government these days in Washington, we had little hope of that happening when it came to COOL. But on the last day an appeal could be filed came word of one. Now comes a two to three-month WTO process where yet another panel will meet behind closed doors to consider the appeal. (WTO appeals have to be based on points of law, such as legal interpretation — they cannot reopen factual findings made by the panel.)

As a result of the appeal we found out that the WTO never said in the first place that the U.S. does not have the right under WTO rules to adopt mandatory COOL. No, what the three-person panel didn’t like was the way COOL “provided less favorable treatment to Canadian and Mexican livestock producers.” They also did not like that “the COOL statute is more trade restrictive than necessary.” In other words, they did not like the fact that lo and behold, American consumers did actually prefer American beef and pork over imported beef.

Whose Side Are They On?

As to be expected from an organization that seems to be more interested in looking out for the interests of big packers than they do American ranchers, the NCBA quickly expressed their disappointment that the U.S. would even dare to file an appeal. “We are very disappointed in this decision,” said NCBA vice president Bob McCann. “Instead of working diligently to bring the United States into WTO compliance, our government has opted to engage in an appeal process, which jeopardizes our strong trade relationship with Canada and Mexico, the two largest importers of U.S. beef, An appeal is the wrong answer and a waste of valuable resources, This appeal will do nothing but escalate tension with our valuable trade partners and will prolong an issue that could be resolved quickly. We should be working toward a solution instead of creating a bigger problem.

“NCBA will engage with Canada and Mexico in order to prevent any retaliatory action that could occur from this unfortunate decision made by the U.S. government.”

Concluded NCBA’s McCann, “Cattlemen deserve a government that fights for and protects our opportunities. We need a government that not only demands WTO compliance of our trade partners but one that ensures the United States is abiding by these same guidelines.”

That bears repeating; in the words of the NCBA, what we need is a government that “demands WTO compliance.” One would think from such statements that the NCBA was getting its funding from the governments and stock raiser’s groups in Canada and Mexico, rather than the $50 million it gets each year from Beef Checkoff, funds paid overwhelmingly by American ranchers. (That 50 million dollars represents 80 percent of NCBA’s total revenue.) It should also be noted that the packers in the U.S. want their cheap imports to still be marked with a USDA inspection label to fool customers into thinking it’s a domestic product. The packers sure are getting a big bang for the buck they DON’T HAVE TO PAY to the checkoff.

Word Games

As you’d expect, R-CALF, who worked extremely hard to get COOL implemented, had a different take on the WTO appeal than the NCBA. “We’re extremely thankful that our U.S. Trade Representative has chosen to defend our constitutionally-passed COOL law,” said R-CALF COOL Committee Chair, Mike Schultz. “But, we’re in a no-win situation regarding this frontal attack on our COOL law because our nation should not tolerate for an instant a foreign entity’s efforts to undermine our constitutionally-passed domestic laws in the first place.”

As for NCBA’s role in the process, R-CALF CEO Bill Bullard had this to say: “Several powerful corporate industry groups are actually supporting the WTO’s efforts to undermine our U.S. COOL law, including the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association (NCBA) and the American Meat Institute (AMI). These groups don’t want U.S. consumers to know if they are buying beef produced exclusively in the United States or if their beef was produced in Nicaragua, Honduras, Mexico, or any one of the more than a dozen countries where U.S. corporations source their beef.”

Like us, R-CALF’s Bullard had a problem with the WTO panel word game in which they said, that yes, the United States has a right to implement a COOL program but that we implemented it in the wrong way. (They don’t say what is the right way.)

“This is nothing more than semantics,” said Bullard. “and the WTO is far too coy to have attacked our domestic law in any other way than it did. The fact is that the WTO accomplished its objective by ruling on the one hand that COOL was too rigid and treated foreign product less favorably than domestic product, but on the other hand, it ruled that COOL was too flexible and therefore nullified the COOL law’s objective.”

Our government is sure sending mixed messages to cattlemen these days. On one hand the USDA wants to be able to track our livestock from birth to the grocery store so that they supposedly can protect the consumer from foreign diseases, while on the other hand they don’t want supermarkets to tell their customers what country the meat they are selling came from. Is all this making sense to anyone?

“Nonsensical and Baseless”

In theory, members of the WTO gain access to each other’s markets on even terms. This means that no two nations can have sweetheart trade pacts without granting the same terms to every other nation, or at least every other nation in WTO. Granted, that’s a great concept and a worthy goal. But since the WTO was founded in 1995 it has proven that’s not at all what they are about. Some analysts have called the WTO, “The most powerful legislative and judicial body in the world.” What makes the WTO so powerful is that its rules can be enforced through trade sanctions. If, for example, the U.S. loses its appeal over COOL and then does not change or eliminate COOL, then we can be fined, or have trade sanctions imposed against us. In some cases WTO can even exact their pound of flesh by punishing industries not even remotely related to the one in question. This gives the WTO more power than any other international body, even eclipsing national governments like our own.

One look at their history shows the WTO has invariably chosen the agenda of multinational corporations above the interests of local communities, the environment, and working folks. Like the United Nations and the World Bank (who they work hand-in-glove with) the WTO has undermined democracy around the world by promoting the concept of a one-world government. And they do so in secret. While the WTO says that transparency is one of their goals, they often meet behind locked doors, especially after 50,000 people showed up at their meeting in Seattle in 1999 after watching the WTO prove to be just a cheerleader for multinational corporations. Those protesters successfully shut down that WTO meeting but rather than make reforms, the WTO instead just made their meetings and deliberations even more secretive.

It’s hard to find a fan of the WTO. The left sees the WTO as lobbyist for big business, while the right says they should get out of the way and let companies and countries do business on a deal-by-deal basis. Fortunately for all of us, the WTO hasn’t exactly been a raging success.

So stay tuned, a decision on the appeal to WTO’s ruling on COOL is expected within the next 60 days. In anticipation of that event R-CALF’s Mike Schultz says, “The WTO’s anti-COOL ruling is nonsensical and baseless and we are confident the United States will prevail in this unenviable appeal.”

Nonsensical and baseless, you say?

That’s the very definition of the World Trade Organization.

Rustling costs ranchers millions in poor economy

By JIM SUHR, AP Business Writer

ST. LOUIS (AP) — Even with cattle theft rampant in much of the nation’s midsection, Oklahoma rancher Ryan Payne wasn’t worried about anyone messing with his cows and calves. By his estimation, his pasture is so far off the beaten path “you need a helicopter to see it.”

Branding a cowThat changed last month when Payne, 37, checked on his livestock and found a ghoulish scene: Piles of entrails from two Black angus calves he says thieves gutted “like they were deer.” They made off with the meat and another 400-pound calf in a heist he estimated cost him $1,800.

“Gosh, times are tough, and maybe people are truly starving and just need the meat,” he said. “But it’s shocking. I can’t believe people can stoop that low.”

While the brazenness may be unusual, the theft isn’t. High beef prices have made cattle attractive as a quick score for people struggling in the sluggish economy, and other livestock are being taken too. Six thousand lambs were stolen from a feedlot in Texas, and nearly 1,000 hogs have been stolen in recent weeks from farms in Iowa and Minnesota. The thefts add up to millions of dollars in losses for U.S. ranches.

Authorities say today’s thieves are sophisticated compared to the horseback bandits of the rugged Old West. They pull up livestock trailers in the middle of the night and know how to coax the animals inside. Investigators suspect it’s then a quick trip across state lines to sell the animals at auction barns.

“It almost has to be someone who knows about the business, including just knowing where to take the cattle,” said Carmen Fenton, a spokeswoman for the 15,000-member Texas and Southwestern Cattle Raisers Association, formed in the 1870s specifically to combat cattle rustlers. “It’s crazy to think we’re still in business.”

There’s no clearinghouse that tracks thefts nationally, but statistics among certain states are staggering. In Texas — the nation’s biggest cattle producer — and to a lesser extent Oklahoma, some 4,500 cattle have been reported missing or stolen this year, according to Fenton’s group. The association’s special rangers managed to recover or account for $4.8 million in stolen ranch property each of the previous two years, most of it steers, bulls, cows and calves.

Such thefts also are happening in places once spared. In southwestern Missouri’s Jasper County, not far from a regional stockyard, about 100 of the nearly 180 head of cattle stolen this year were snatched during a recent six-week stretch, sheriff’s Lt. Ron Thomas said.

Branding a cow“Occasionally one or two have gotten stolen (over the years), but not this many in such a short time. They’ve gotten us big time,” he said, figuring the stolen livestock have been whisked off to another state. “These guys are not your typical fly-by-night, let’s-steal-a-cow kinda people. They know exactly what they’re doing. They’re pretty slick, and they’re bold.”

Investigators have found clues to be elusive, partly because thieves often artfully conceal their crimes by replacing pasture fences they’ve cut to get to the animals, Thomas said. Ranchers unaccustomed to counting their cattle each day may not realize any are missing for a week or more, and by then, any tire tracks or other evidence — perhaps even DNA or fingerprints from a soda or beer can discarded by the bandit — may be gone.

The other problem is that while brands are widely used in the West, three states hard hit by livestock thefts — Missouri, Oklahoma and Texas — don’t require them. That’s hampered investigators’ efforts to match recovered cattle to owners or to relay to stockyards markings to watch for when strangers haul in livestock to be sold.

Without brands, “ranchers could tell me their missing cow is brown and white, but goodness gracious, go down the road and you’ll see thousands,” Thomas said.

While a voluntary national livestock identification system exists, few ranchers and farmers participate in it and those who do fear that the rustlers will simply cut off the ID tag in seconds.

“Unfortunately, cattle don’t have a serial number that goes with them or some type of permanent ID” short of branding, said Jim Fraley, an Illinois Farm Bureau livestock specialist. “Thieves look at it as an opportunity and can market the cattle under their name. It’s a fairly easy thing to do.” Hot iron branding is the only proven method of ID that is permanent. Hide brands can not be removed or changed like electronic pens or ear tags.

In Ohio and Pennsylvania a single cattle rustler stole over $400,000 cattle. He was wise in never acquiring a single animal with a hot iron brand. Those stolen with ear marks or tags were quickly removed, therefore leaving no ID for law enforcement to track. The lack of hide brands invites a new breed of cattle rustler.

Owners’ vigilance has paid off in some cases. A Colorado rancher who was hunting prairie dogs spotted one of his branded, missing cows on another man’s property. Deputies swooped in and found 36 cows and 31 calves worth $68,000 and belonging to nine different people.

An Alabama rancher reported a couple of his cattle missing, and then two more were stolen the next night, Chilton County Sheriff Kevin Davis said. Sheriff’s investigators installed cameras on the property but got nothing before pulling them days later.

Not long after, the farmer called because he spotted two men with a pickup truck and what turned out to be a stolen trailer on his land. Deputies arrested the men and found five of the six missing cows — half of them pregnant — at various locations. The sixth animal already had been slaughtered.

Davis credited luck and the rancher’s “heightened alert” for snaring the two suspects.

“The boldness is the thing — for them to come back three different times to the same pasture,” he said. “Obviously, they didn’t feel very threatened about being caught. But I’ve never given criminals credit for having high intelligence.”

And they’re not finicky. An Ohio woman has been charged with taking $110,000 worth of frozen bull semen — which can valuable to breeders in even small amounts — from a liquid-nitrogen tank at a Moorefield Township genetics company where she once worked.

Nor are all the thefts big. Someone recently made off with two horses — ages 16 and 7 — from a home near Hanover in northeastern Illinois’ Jo Daviess County.

Back in Oklahoma, Payne replaced old wire gates on his ranch near Chelsea, with “big, old heavy-duty steel ones,” hoping to safeguard his other cows.

“That’s about all I can do,” he said. “Like everyone says, it never happens to me. I guess that’s wrong.”

R-CALF United Stockgrowers of America

 

“Fighting for the U.S. ! Cattle Producer”

 

For Immediate Release                                                                         Contact: R-CALF USA CEO Bill Bullard

December 23, 2011                                                                                          Phone: 406-252-2516; r-calfusa@r-calfusa.com

 

10 Days of Opposition to USDA’s Proposed Mandatory Animal Identification Rule:  Part X of X-Part Series

Billings, Mont. – Today’s news release is the final installment of the 10-day series in which R-CALF USA provides a detailed explanation of the reasons our members vehemently oppose the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service’s (APHIS’) proposed mandatory animal identification rule titled, Traceability for Livestock Moving Interstate (proposed rule).

With this effort, R-CALF USA hopes it has brought to light many of the dangerous aspects associated with the proposed rule that R-CALF USA described in its voluminous comments submitted to APHIS on Dec. 9, 2011. Click here to view the entire 41-page comment submitted by R-CALF USA, which includes all of the group’s citations to specific references that are removed from this news release to save space.

Part X:  APHIS’ Proposed Rule Is Based on False Information Regarding the U.S. Cattle Industry and Is an Affront to the Hard Working Men and Women in the U.S. Cattle Industry

  1. Additional Concerns Regarding APHIS’ Proposed Rule
  1. 1.      APHIS’ proposed rule is functionally deficient because it is silent on producer liability.

The proposed rule fails to address one of the most critical concerns raised by thousands of cattle producers during USDA’s NAIS listening sessions. That critical concern was producer liability. Under APHIS’ proposal, which is a book-end identification system, the person who applied the animal’s tag likely would be the primary suspect in any disease traceback, even if he/she sold the animal years earlier and the animal was later comingled with higher-risk Mexican cattle or trader cattle on multiple occasions. As a primary suspect, the original ear-tagger likely would bear the cost of testing and retesting his/her entire herd. This is unacceptable and APHIS has not even attempted to estimate the tremendous cost that U.S. cattle producers likely would bear as a result of APHIS’ proposed rule.

  1. 2.      APHIS’ proposed rule will significant disrupt interstate commerce by prohibiting the use of back tags on cattle destined for slaughter.

USDA’s proposed rule will significantly increase the cost of interstate movement by disallowing the use of expedient back-tags for cattle destined for slaughter. Back tags are a proven, effective, humane and expedient means of identifying cattle destined for slaughter and the elimination of this device will disrupt commerce, increase animal injuries, and add unnecessary cost to an industry incapable of passing additional costs to those that may benefit from USDA’s new imposition on cattle producers.

  1. 3.      APHIS justifies its proposed rule based on false cattle industry information and information that is too broad and ambiguous to meaningfully inform decision makers.

R-CALF USA remains concerned that APHIS continues to not only ignore the unique characteristics of the U.S. cattle industry, but also, it continually presents misleading information to the public. For example, APHIS’ supporting documents for the proposed rule states:

Although the total cattle inventory fell by 15 percent between 1979 and 2009, commercial beef production grew by 22 percent. The decline in cattle inventory has been offset by a 23 percent increase in the average dressed weight of federally inspected cattle.

APHIS, fails to inform the public that the 22 percent growth in beef production between 1979 and 2009 also was due to the influx of imported live cattle that were subsequently slaughtered in the U.S., with their resulting beef added to the United States’ commercial beef production. Live cattle imports from Mexico and Canada increased by 1,269,560 head between 1979 and 2009. Based on the average carcass weight in 2009 of 748 pounds, those imported cattle contributed about 950 million additional pounds to commercial beef production.  !

Commercial beef production increased from 21.262 billion pounds to 25.966 billion pounds between 2007 and 2009.  This represents about a 4.7 billion pound increase during that period. However, nearly one billion pounds (about 950 million pounds) of that increase was attributable to beef derived from imported cattle.  Therefore, the growth in commercial beef production attributable to increased dressed weights was less than 18 percent while the contribution of imports to that growth was 20 percent, i.e., beef from imported cattle accounted for approximately 20 percent of the growth in domestic beef production between 2007 and 2009.

Thus, APHIS’ assertion that the decline in cattle inventory has been offset by a 23 percent increase in the average dressed weight of federally inspected cattle is false. APHS would have been accurate to state, however, that 1.2 million head of the U.S. mother cow herd had been offset by the growth in imported cattle, which increased by 1.2 million head between 1979 and 2009.

Also, and as mentioned previously, APHIS describes the U.S. cattle industry as one in which the average number of cattle per cattle operation has increased to nearly 100 head for all cattle operations. This description fails to recognize, describe, or disclose the profound, segmented nature of the U.S. cattle industry. For example, in 2010 the average size of the U.S. beef cow herd was fewer than 42 head per herd; the average size of the U.S. dairy herd was 146 head; the average number of cattle in the 75,000 remaining farmer feedlots with capacities of less than 1,000 head was only 34 head per feedlot; and, the average number of cattle in the 2,140 commercial feedlots! with capacities of more than 1,000 head was 5,380 head per feedlot.

This information provides a far more accurate description of the U.S. cattle industry and provides far more valuable information to people making decisions that impact the U.S. cattle industry. R-CALF USA urges APHIS to be truthful and accurate when representing the U.S. cattle industry so as to avoid the propagation of erroneous information that invariably leads to bad public policy, such as APHIS’ proposed rule now under consideration.

  1. Conclusion.

There is absolutely no need for a federally mandated animal identification system. The 50 states already have animal health import and export rules that rely upon and reference existing official animal identification devices. If USDA wishes to assist the 50 states and the nation’s tribes to improve disease traceability, it should work in cooperation with the states, tribes and cattle producers to develop best practices guidelines for the import and export of cattle among and between the states and tribes and assist those states and tribes in developing specific programs that work best for them.

For all the foregoing reasons APHIS’ one-size-fits-all proposed rule is, at best, an absolute boondoggle and must be immediately withdrawn. If APHIS does not immediately withdraw the proposed rule, the U.S. cattle industry will suffer irreparable harm.

R-CALF USA encourages readers to share this information with their neighbors, state animal health officials, and their members of Congress. 

R-CALF United Stockgrowers of America

 

“Fighting for the U.S. ! Cattle Producer”

 

For Immediate Release                                                                         Contact: R-CALF USA CEO Bill Bullard

December 22, 2011                                                                                          Phone: 406-252-2516; r-calfusa@r-calfusa.com

 

8 Days (Now 10) of Opposition to USDA’s Proposed Mandatory Animal Identification Rule:  Part IX of X-Part Series

Billings, Mont. – To minimize the size of the last scheduled news release in R-CALF USA’s 8-day series, R-CALF USA extended the series for two additional days. Each daily news release provides a detailed explanation of the reasons our members vehemently oppose the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service’s (APHIS’) proposed mandatory animal identification rule titled, Traceability for Livestock Moving Interstate (proposed rule).

With this effort, R-CALF USA hopes to bring to light many of the dangerous aspects associated with the proposed rule that R-CALF USA described in its voluminous comments submitted to APHIS on Dec. 9, 2011. Click here to view the entire 41-page comment submitted by R-CALF USA, which includes all of the group’s citations to specific references that are removed from this news release to save space.

Part IX:  The Agency’s Disdain for Brands, Inclusion of Feeder Cattle, and Failure to Disclose Documented Reasons for Untimely Disease Tracebacks Demonstrate APHIS’ Insincerity 

  1. APHIS’ Proposed Rule Discriminates Against States that Require Brand Inspections and Brand Inspection Certificates as a Condition for Leaving a Brand Inspection Area and Discriminates Against Cattle Producers Within Those States that Pay for and Rely on Brands and Brand Certificates to Identify Their Cattle
  1. APHIS’ inexplicable failure to include hot-iron brands accompanied by a certificate from a recognized brand inspection authority as a group/lot identifier is unscientific.

APHIS has failed to recognize brands as an official means of providing group/lot identification, under any circumstance. This is more than just alarming because of the obvious fact that each animal in a group of branded cattle is traceable even in the event the group/lot identification number is lost or destroyed, or in the event the group of animals, or any member of the group of animals, is inadvertently separated. APHIS cannot make this claim for any other group/lot identification device it is proposing.

The ability to identify each individual member of the group as a member of the group is scientifically and practicably superior to any of the group/lot identification devices proposed by APHIS in the proposed rule. It is unconscionable that APHIS would reject the single most effective means of group/lot identification, and the only means that would enable a trace back of a group/lot that inadvertently becomes separated or for which the paperwork is lost or destroyed.

APHIS must universally recognize the hot-iron brand accompanied by a certificate from a recognized brand authority as an officially approved group/lot identification method. Further, U.S. cattle producers that move in interstate commerce a group/lot of branded cattle accompanied by a certificate from a recognized brand authority should have no further obligation to place any other type of animal identification on their cattle. When the group lot arrives at its destination, which may be another brand state wherein the cattle likely will be rebranded, the buyer or buyers of those cattle should be responsible for applying any type of identification that may be required by the receiving state if the group is to be separated. I! f the group is not separated, e.g., if the entire group is sold to a feedlot for finishing, than the owner or manager of those cattle in the receiving state should have no obligation to apply any other form of identification.

  1. Under no circumstances should APHIS include feeder cattle in any mandatory animal identification rule.

The U.S. all but eradicated diseases such as bovine TB and brucellosis by focusing on the identification of breeding cattle only. The principal culprits that have caused the resurgence of those diseases are imported cattle (primarily from Mexico, see supra) and wildlife reservoirs. APHIS has the authority, recourses and means to fully prevent the continual reintroduction of disease that are spread by imported cattle as well as to minimize disease reservoirs in wildlife, but it refuses to implement stricter import standards and effective wildlife mitigations. Instead, USDA wants to burden the owners! of our nation’s 31.4 million beef mother cows with its onerous, overreaching rule that effectively forces U.S. cattle producers to pay costs associated with other country’s disease problems and site-specific wildlife problems. This proposed rule is anything but a scientific, risk-based proposal.

APHIS has failed to explain how past disease programs were so “tremendously successful” without ever imposing mandatory identification on feeder cattle and why, suddenly, APHIS deems it necessary.

As stated above, the cost of ear tagging the 2010 calf crop, again using APHIS’ estimate that 3.1 million calves already bear official identification, would be between $554 million and $880 million. This cost would be expected to be incurred year after year if feeder cattle were subjected to the proposed rule. Even using APHIS’ grossly understated cost of $4.68 per head, the proposed rule would cost U.S. cattle producers $152.6 million annually.

For comparison purposes, APHIS estimates the annual cost to states and the federal government for bovine TB testing is $2.6 million. However, this cost does not come close to justifying the mandatory imposition of hundreds of millions of dollars in additional costs on U.S. cow/calf producers.

  1. APHIS has failed to disclose the full nature of the problem the proposed rule is intended to address or to explain how the proposed rule would be expected to correct the serious problems APHIS failed to disclose.

APHIS has failed to disclose significant problems that have been identified in its disease traceback operations and has failed to explain how the proposed rule would be expected to correct those problems. For example, APHIS attempts to justify its proposed rule on the basis that some bovine TB investigations exceed 150 days.  See supporting document, at 8.  APHIS, along with other proponents of the proposed rule’s precursor – NAIS – alleged that because of what they call an “outdated system of tracking outbreaks of animal diseases to their sources (EXHIBIT 26, p. 5);” and a “lack of any official identification” with which to determine the “specific origin of the subject animal . . .[and] without movement data (EXHIBIT 7, p. 3),”  disease traceback investigations have taken too long to conduct.  Both the American Veterinar! y Medical Association (AVMA) and APHIS cited the same statistics to su pport their allegations:  AVMA stated, “Investigators spent an average of 199 days tracing the sources of animals infected with bovine tuberculosis between October 2005 and August 2007 (EXHIBIT 26, p. 5).” APHIS stated, “The average time spent conducting a traceback involving 27 recent bovine tuberculosis investigations was 199 days (EXHIBIT 7, p. 4).”

However, the Office of Inspector General (OIG) conducted an audit of APHIS’ control over its bovine TB eradication program in September 2006. According to the audit, the OIG found that a lack of identification on individual animals was not the sole source of APHIS’ problem in conducting its bovine TB investigations. In fact, the OIG found that over half of the investigations that were closed with an outcome of “untraceable” were animals that were identified with eartags, but the eartags either were not collected at the time of slaughter, had been removed by the feedlot prior to slaughter, or were unable to be traced because there was no requirement to maintain records (EXHIBIT 27, p. 38).  Equally important, the OIG found that APHIS’ disease eradication efforts were hampered because the agency was not using its oversight tools in a timely manner, i.e., not timely reviewing and responding to the annual and monthly summaries of program results submitted by States nor was it properly reviewing States for program compliance (EXHIBIT 27, p. 5-9). The OIG also found that APHIS was not following Federal regulations for declaring affected bovine TB herds, which weakened the agency’s ability to contain and eradicate the disease and resulted in no additional controls being put in place for the majority of bovine TB cases detected in the past 5 years (EXHIBIT 27, p. 11-14). The agency was also cited for not timely downgrading the TB status of States after the agency knew that the disease was not isolated in one herd (EXHIBIT 27, p. 16-17); not having adequate controls to restrict the introduction of bovine TB in Mexican cattle (EXHIBIT 27, p. 19-21); not requiring slaughtering facilities to conduct surveillance at the recommended rate (EXHIBIT 27, p. ! 22-24); not monitoring high-risk herds and the corresponding on-farm testing that is required (EXHIBIT 27, p. 28-29); and not providing sufficient training to investigators so investigations could be completed in a timely manner (EXHIBIT 27, p. 22, 25, 28).

APHIS has failed to provide the livestock industry with sufficient data to identify all significant problems associated with current animal disease traceability systems and provide documentation to show how any new animal disease traceability system would be expected to resolve any such specific problems. The systemic problems described above are internal management problems that impede disease control and eradication as well as disease investigations and would not be solved by implementing the proposed rule.

Because the proposed rule fails to address how APHIS intends to address the systemic problems disclosed and discussed above, it is as likely as not that APHIS’ internal management problems would continually hamstring disease investigations and no measurable improvement would be made to the timeliness of the Agency’s disease investigation simply by imposing an outrageously expensive identification requirement on U.S. cattle producers.

 

R-CALF USA encourages readers to share this information with their neighbors, state animal health officials, and their members of Congress. 

R-CALF United Stockgrowers of America

 

“Fighting for the U.S. ! Cattle Producer”

 

For Immediate Release                                                                         Contact: R-CALF USA CEO Bill Bullard

December 21, 2011                                                                                          Phone: 406-252-2516; r-calfusa@r-calfusa.com

 

8 Days (Now 10) of Opposition to USDA’s Proposed Mandatory Animal Identification Rule:  Part VIII of X-Part Series

Billings, Mont. – To minimize the size of the last scheduled news release in R-CALF USA’s 8-day series, R-CALF USA is extending the series for two more days. Each daily news release provides a detailed explanation of the reasons our members vehemently oppose the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service’s (APHIS’) proposed mandatory animal identification rule titled, Traceability for Livestock Moving Interstate (proposed rule).

With this effort, R-CALF USA hopes to bring to light many of the dangerous aspects associated with the proposed rule that R-CALF USA described in its voluminous comments submitted to APHIS on Dec. 9, 2011. Click here to view the entire 41-page comment submitted by R-CALF USA, which includes all of the group’s citations to specific references that are removed from this news release to save space.

Part VIII:  APHIS’ Proposed Rule Is an Affront to the Cattle Industry’s Centuries-old Brand

 

  1. APHIS’ Proposed Rule Discriminates Against States that Require Brand Inspections and Brand Inspection Certificates as a Condition for Leaving a Brand Inspection Area and Discriminates Against Cattle Producers Within Those States that Pay for and Rely on Brands and Brand Certificates to Identify Their Cattle

 

  1. APHIS’s proposed rule ignores the historical effectiveness, functionality and permanence of the hot-iron brand as a means of identifying cattle and groups of cattle.

 

APHIS is acutely aware of the superior permanence of the hot-iron brand as compared to ear tags.  In its final rule to allow the importation of Canadian cattle 30 months of age or older (OTM rule), APHIS distinguishes brands as “permanent identification,” while separately requiring, in addition to permanent identification, an official ear tag to be placed in imported Canadian cattle (EXHIBIT 24, p. 53378 col. 1). In fact, ear tags are not even mentioned as acceptable means of permanent identification, with only freeze brands, hot-iron brands, and tattoos expressly listed among the acceptable, permanent means of identification (EXHIBIT 24, p. 53378 col. 1). In addition to permanent identification, the OTM rule also requires the individual identification with an official ear tag of the country of origin (EXHIBIT 24, p. 53378 co! l. 1).

 

APHIS’ purpose for requiring permanent brands on Canadian cattle along with ear tags is succinctly explained in the OTM rule. APHIS stated, “We recognize that animals can lose eartags at various points in the process. . . (EXHIBIT 24, p. 53340 col. 1).”

 

The foregoing discussion reveals that for disease traceback purposes, even for cattle originating in regions that APHIS has deemed a “minimal-risk” for disease, APHIS requires a three-prong traceback system:  1) it requires the permanent identification of the animal using a brand or tattoo; 2) it requires individual identification with an official ear tag; and, 3) it requires visible information on the animal to denote the animal’s origin (EXHIBIT 24, p. 53379 col. 1).

 

R-CALF USA agrees that this three-prong traceback system is a science-based means of achieving functional traceability on livestock that may be subject to a disease investigation.  The system has needed redundancy to address the inherent propensity for ear tags to be lost, and it provides visible information that enables any person to identify the origin of the animal.

 

APHIS’ proposed rule fails completely to explain why the three identification elements needed from minimal-risk regions are not needed to provide a science-based traceback system for U.S. cattle. Nor does APHIS explain which of the three elements are most important to ensure the ability to conduct tracebacks, e.g., is it more important to have permanent identification or are loss-prone ear tags equally functional for disease tracebacks? And, APHIS fails completely to explain why the ability to visibly identify the origin of the animal is not even necessary for domestic traceback purposes.

 

If the requirement contained in the OTM rule is science-based, than the proposed requirements in the proposed rule are not.  This is because the proposed rule incorporates only one of the three elements required in the OTM rule, and the one it has incorporated is not even recognized by APHIS as a permanent form of identification. The proposed rule depends exclusively on an official ear tag that bears a U.S. shield and a number:  it does not require permanent identification (indeed it expels permanent identification from its list of official animal identification devices), and it does not require ear tags to bear visible information to i! dentify even the state from which the animal originated. APHIS further fails to explain why privately-owned U.S. cattle must bear a U.S. shield for the privilege of moving across a state line. Such a shield is of no use to disease investigators and if a shield is to be required at all, it should be the shield of the state from which the animal originated, at least then a person could immediately initiate a disease investigation by calling the animal heath officials in the state of origin should an animal be detected with a disease. Better yet, the animal should bear the shield of the property’s owner – which is precisely what is accomplished with a registered hot-iron brand.

 

APHIS contends it cannot require all states to accept brands because all states do not have brand inspection programs. At the same time, however, APHIS’ proposed rule requires all states to accept ear tags that do not allow any visible means with which to ascertain the origin of an animal. For example, the APHIS approved 840 ear tag does not contain an identifier that denotes the state of origin.  Therefore, an animal health official without immediate access to an expensive, electronic wand or a national database has no means of initiating an immediate traceback of the animal. On the other hand, if an animal was transported to a state with a brand, then the animal health official could immediately narrow the animal’s potential origin to those states that have a ! recognized brand authority that issues brand certificates. APHIS is disingenuous in its claim that non-brand states cannot accept brands while it simultaneously requires non-wand states to accept 840 electronic tags.

 

APHIS’ proposed identification requirements for cattle lack any scientific justification. APHIS has thrown the proverbial baby out with the bath water by refusing to adopt even the core elements of current U.S. disease programs that APHIS itself acknowledges were “tremendously successful” in the agency’s efforts to eradicate brucellosis.. See 76 Fed. Reg. 50081, col. 3. The highly successful brucellosis program, not surprisingly, incorporated each of the three prongs APHIS requires of Canada:  1) the program recognized brands as official identification, which provided a high level of redundancy; 2) the program required an official ear tag! ; and, 3) the ear tag contained visible information with which to immediately identify the state of origin.

APHIS’ claim that its goal is to shorten the time necessary to conduct disease tracebacks is proved false by APHIS’ failure to adopt the historically proven, simple, and visible state identifier, such as two-digit numeric code that denotes the tag’s state of origin, on all of its approved ear tags.

 

The role of the permanent brand in contributing to the United States’ “tremendously successful” disease program is profound. In a March 9, 2010, article by James C. Clement, D.V.M., Cow-Calf Research & Consulting, Dr. Clement explains the profound contribution that brands and brand programs make to generating animal tracking data every day, along with describing how critical tracking data are compiled.  Dr. Clement states:

 

Animal tracking data is generated every day in Brand States and is the byproduct of routine record-keeping processes that involve cattle marketing businesses and SBIS [State Brand Inspection Systems]. SBIS create inspection certificates associated with the movement of 27,000,000 head of livestock (primarily cattle) on an annual basis (EXHIBIT 25).

 

APHIS cites no study, nor does it have any nationwide experience in conducting animal disease tracebacks without relying upon the animal tracking data generated by brand states. Indeed, APHIS has not cited any system in the world that can hold a candle to the brand states’ ongoing generation of animal tracking data for 27 million head of livestock, primarily cattle, which represents about one-third of the entire U.S. population of cattle and calves.

 

APHIS has no scientific basis for delisting the hot-iron brand accompanied by a certificate from a recognized brand authority from the list of official animal identification devices or methods, or in any way demoting the hot-iron brand to a level below any other form of animal identification.

 

Based on the hot-iron brand’s role in generating animal tacking data for tens of millions of livestock, APHIS’ proposed rule that delists the brand from the list of official animal identification devices will reduce the United State’s ability to timely trace disease suspects to the disease source.

 

R-CALF USA encourages readers to share this information with their neighbors, state animal health officials, and their members of Congress. 

IT’S THE PITTS — WITH ALL DUE RESPECT

by: Lee Pitts

Mark Zuckerberg is the 27 year old billionaire techno-geek-god who founded Facebook. For you old-timers, Facebook is that Internet phenomenon that allows hundreds of millions of people around the world to simultaneously waste their time telling hundreds of “friends,” most of whom they’ve never met in person, every little boring detail of their lives.

It seems that every year Zuckerberg challenges himself to improve one facet of his life. A noble cause indeed. In 2010 his challenge was to learn Chinese, and the year before that it was to wear a tie every day. (Personally, I think I’d rather build the Great Wall of China by hand than wear a tie every day.) This year Zuckerberg vowed that he’d get more in touch with his food supply by only eating meat from animals that he killed himself.

Thus far Zuckerberg has killed a lobster, which, if you’ve ever been in a fancy seafood restaurant, you know entails picking out a lobster and dropping it in a big pot of boiling water. Big deal. All you have to do is cover your ears so you don’t hear the screams, and then serve. Still, Zuckerberg said he got very emotional about it.

Next, he put a picture of the chicken he killed on his Facebook page, and I’m sure the chicken now has millions of new Facebook “friends.” (Although I wouldn’t be expecting any Tweets from the dead chicken if I were you.)

Zuckerberg has also killed a pig and a goat but, in his words, has “basically become a vegetarian.” I don’t want Zuckerberg to get emotional or anything so I won’t tell him that the stalk of broccoli or head of lettuce he eats are also killed when they are harvested.       Next up, Zuckerberg says he’d like to try his hand at hunting and if you are in his immediate vicinity I’d stay indoors and put bright orange vests on all your cows because I’m sure Zuckerberg must really be hankering for a steak by now.

I’d be a lot more impressed if Zuckerberg only ate animals that he RAISED and then killed. Better yet, Zuckerberg ought to go back to high school and take vocational agriculture. In my freshmen year my ag instructor encouraged all of us FFA Greenhands to raise a commercial lamb. Then he showed us the proper, most sanitary, and least painful way to kill the lamb. It might not have been painful for my lamb, but it sure was for me. Talk about growing up in a hurry! This experience taught me two important and valuable lessons early in life, number one: that it’s very fulfilling to provide food for your family. And number two: if you want to eat, something has to die. It’s literally a fact of life.

If any of the FFA kids felt too remorseful, or couldn’t cope with the concept of killing, our ag teacher asked them, “Don’t you think the lamb appreciated the healthy life you gave it, the good food you fed it twice a day and the humane way you ended it’s life? Wouldn’t your lamb have made the choice to have lived that life, rather than having had no life at all, which is most certainly what would have happened if we didn’t raise animals for food?”

That’s the way 99.9 percent of ranchers feel about their cattle. They are not callous people or hardened psychotic killers like PETA wants everyone to believe. They have a job to do and they do it well. And it is a noble one: to feed people. I’ve seen these same ranchers cry when their horse died or pay whatever it costs to have the vet set their dog’s broken leg.

While I applaud Zuckerberg for wanting to get more in touch with his food supply, I’d also suggest that he need not become a vegetarian to end the suffering of animals. In fact, it’s the exact opposite. It all boils down to this Mr. Zuckerberg: If you want to give the gift of life to more animals, eat more meat. It really is that simple.

All the cattlemen I know, myself included, became ranchers in the first place because we truly love and respect animals. In fact, some of us prefer them to people. The animals are our friends, maybe not Facebook friends, but good friends nonetheless.

wwwLeePittsbooks.com

R-CALF United Stockgrowers of America

 

“Fighting for the U.S. ! Cattle Producer”

 

For Immediate Release                                                                         Contact: R-CALF USA CEO Bill Bullard

December 20, 2011                                                                                          Phone: 406-252-2516; r-calfusa@r-calfusa.com

 

8 Days of Opposition to USDA’s Proposed Mandatory Animal Identification Rule:  Part VII of VIII-Part Series

Billings, Mont. – As promised, R-CALF USA has launched an 8-day series of news releases to explain in detail many of the reasons our members vehemently oppose the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service’s (APHIS’) proposed mandatory animal identification rule titled, Traceability for Livestock Moving Interstate (proposed rule).

With this effort, R-CALF USA hopes to bring to light many of the dangerous aspects associated with the proposed rule that R-CALF USA described in its voluminous comments submitted to APHIS on Dec. 9, 2011. Click here to view the entire 41-page comment submitted by R-CALF USA, which includes all of the group’s citations to specific references that are removed from this news release to save space.

Part VII:  APHIS’ Proposed Rule Discriminates Against Brand Inspection States and Brands

  1. APHIS’ Proposed Rule Discriminates Against States that Require Brand Inspections and Brand Inspection Certificates as a Condition for Leaving a Brand Inspection Area and Discriminates Against Cattle Producers Within Those States that Pay for and Rely on Brands and Brand Certificates to Identify Their Cattle
  1. USDA-APHIS has deceived U.S. cattle producers by proposing to remove brands from the list of official animal identification devices or methods.

APHIS’ proposal in the proposed rule to delist the hot-iron brand accompanied by a certificate from a recognized brand authority as an official form of animal identification constitutes a broken promise made by USDA to U.S. cattle producers.  In February 2010, USDA stated in regard to its new animal disease traceability framework, which has materialized into the proposed rule:

USDA will maintain a list of official identification devices, which can be updated or expanded based on the needs of the States and Tribal Nations. There are many official identification options available, such as branding, metal tags, RFID, just to name a few (EXHIBIT 10). (Emphasis added.)

Cattle producers have been outright deceived by USDA due to APHIS’ proposal to remove brands from the list of official identification devices or methods. The construction of the above sentence, along with the usual and customary meaning attached to its words and phrases, unambiguously implies that brands will remain an official identification option on USDA’s list of official identification devices or methods. Only under a perverted interpretation of that sentence could it mean otherwise.

The consequence of APHIS’ action strips from the states and tribes the option to decide to continue relying upon the brand accompanied by a brand certificate from a recognized brand authority to identify livestock. This reduces flexibility for states and tribes to adopt a system that works best for them. In addition, it strips from individual producers within each state the flexibility to decide to continue their reliance on the brand, which flexibility each individual producer could influence by persuading their respective states’ elected officials.

Under the proposed rule, however, the decision to use brands must be made jointly by two or more states or tribes. Thus, any single state or tribe would be subject to decisions made outside their jurisdiction regarding their ability to use brands for identification. This is an affront on state sovereignty. Moreover, the rights of individual cattle producers in a brand state to continue relying upon their brands would be subject to the decisions made in other states, over which they would have no control.

And, the proposed rule would effectively discriminate against cattle producers in states with mandatory brand inspection programs, which are funded in whole or in part by producer fees, by not reimbursing the producers for the cost of brand inspection fees paid when those producers leave the jurisdiction of their brand inspection authority, which generally is the state’s border, when they are required by APHIS to apply a new form of animal identification.  If APHIS does not reimburse producers that are required by their respective state to obtain a brand inspection before leaving their state, and if APHIS nevertheless requires them to incur the cost of applyi! ng a second form of identification (i.e., requires them to apply an ear tag in addition to their preexisting brand), then APHIS would effectively financially disadvantage those producers in interstate commerce by the per head cost for their mandatory brand inspection.

At the very least, USDA-APHIS has an absolute moral and ethical obligation to treat U.S. cattle producers honestly and fairly. Stating one thing and doing another is dishonest and unfair. In this case, USDA-APHIS stated one thing and did another without providing any notice to the public that it had deviated from its official commitment. Regardless of any rationalization USDA-APHIS may espouse to defend its deviant action, it has acted dishonestly, unfairly, and deceptively. For this reason alone, USDA-APHIS must restore the brand’s rightful status as an official animal identification device and withdraw its proposed ru! le.

R-CALF USA encourages readers to share this information with their neighbors, state animal health officials, and their members of Congress. 

 

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R-CALF USA (Ranchers-Cattlemen Action Legal Fund, United Stockgrowers of America) is a national, nonprofit organization dedicated to ensuring the continued profitability and viability of the U.S. cattle industry. For more information, visit www.r-calfusa.com  or, call 406-252-2516.   

 

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