Cattle Market & Farm Reports, Editorials
Mar 21, 2005
by WLJ

BSE issue gone too far
Dear Mr. Crow,
I couldn't agree more with your editorial March 7. This BSE issue has certainly gone too far.
The R-CALF crowd is leading the public to believe this is a contagious disease of cattle, or that muscle cuts of beef from Canadian cattle could in some way be a consumer health threat, is far from factual. R-CALF leaders seem all too willing to risk eroding consumer confidence in our product in order to further their own protectionist agenda.
Thank you for speaking out.
Ralph D. "Shorty" Jones
Midland, SD

Science used as a smoke screen
Dear Pete,
Are those that advocate the continued closing of the Canadian border being hypocritical in their reasoning for doing so? Let’s see if we can noodle this one out without too much rancor.
Those that advocate keeping the border closed reference OIE as the source of scientific advice. These advocates say that the science is just not yet complete on BSE eradication in Canada and therefore we should not allow any cattle or beef from cattle raised in Canada into the U.S. That seems reasonable on its face.
After consideration of such arguments, a federal judge issued an order prohibiting Canadian cattle from coming into the U.S. and some members of Congress are writing bills to do the same. However, certainly those in Canada and some in the U.S. question the validity of such science.
Now, let’s think back to the European ban on hormone treated cattle. Advocates in the EU said and still say that hormone implanted cattle and the resultant beef should not be allowed into the EU. They state as scientific evidence that studies show that the implanted hormones may cause problems later for those who consume such beef. The U.S. government retaliated with tariffs on EU produced products imported into the U.S. The U.S. cattle industry raised a clamor that such “scientific” evidence was fallacious and should not be used as a “non-tariff” trade barrier.
How can we have it both ways?
Our treatment of Canadian cattle and the EU treatment of some U.S. cattle seem to me to be a similar use of “science” to advocate a cause. To me, both are based on science of convenience.
So I ask you Pete, are we in the U.S. beef industry being hypocritical when we use “science” as the reason for banning Canadian cattle but yet ridicule the “science” the EU used to ban US cattle? Or, has “science” been used as a smoke screen for greed on the part of both the EU for its ban on hormone treated cattle and some U.S. beef producers for their wanting a ban on Canadian cattle and beef?
Mack H. Graves
Latigo Management & Marketing Consultants, Inc.
Centennial, CO

Change: A fact of life
Dear Editor,
I cannot let the letter from Mr. McClure, claiming "misinformation" from NCBA go unchallenged. My husband and I have been active members in NCBA and predecessor organizations since the late 1950s when he served one year as president of the Jr. American National Cattlemen.
We have seen many changes, usually working for the good of the cattle/beef industry (where we and two of our sons' families make our living), I might add. We realize some in the cattle business fear and/or dislike change. It is a fact of life, and often is an improvement. Running water and disposable diapers for babies are two of my personal favorites witnessed in the years of my adulthood!
Mr. McClure is off base in accusing you and NCBA of misinformation, in my opinion. We look forward to the arrival of WLJ as an important and factual source of news of our industry.
Mr. McClures' claim of "a few controlling NCBA" flies in the face of the fact that over 6,000 people attended the recent annual meeting, and that the vast majority of NCBA members are cattle producers, with feeders following in number, and they are ALL eligible to vote either at convention or through the mail. Issues brought up by members from either local or state organizations proceed through the committees or are brought to the floor at the convention and are acted upon by the members. Rather typical, sometimes boring procedures, but necessary to a well conducted meeting.
COOL cannot, under the law as currently written, be "quite simple." There are conflicting trade laws. The prevention within the law of mandatory-ID, yet requirement for packers to "source verify" their product, is an internal conflict. The exemption of a huge portion of imported beef from the law via foodservice and the restaurant trade all serve to make it very difficult at best, and more likely impossible, to administer.
Labeling beef produced in the USA is available and being used currently in the best possible way—by people who are adding value to their product and putting their label on it. Some consumers are choosing to pay the cost of such an identified product—some are not. Private enterprise at its best!
Until you show some viable proof of your accusations, Mr. McClure, it seems to me you should be the one eating your words, rather than (Pete) Crow!
Maxine Jones
Midland, SD