Morningland Dairy—The Final Solution

Written by admin on January 28th, 2013

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/

 

Animal ID Rule Filed with OMB for Final Review

Written by admin on April 27th, 2012

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
______________________________________________________________________

 

 

Rustling costs ranchers millions in poor economy

Written by admin on December 30th, 2011

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.”

 

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

Written by admin on December 23rd, 2011

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. 

 

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

Written by admin on December 22nd, 2011

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.