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franklin county times

Americans love beef

By Staff
Beef consumption in the U.S. has risen 24 percent over the last six years, despite concerns over &#8220mad cow,” or bovine spongiform encephalopathy disease.
Although an Alabama cow recently tested positive for BSE, the incident, like the two previously reported cases in the U.S., appears to be an isolated event that poses no threat to people or animals.
Because of progressive steps taken by the U.S. government and beef producers over the past 15 years, we're all able to enjoy our favorite cheeseburger or steak without worrying about the health risks.
Cases of mad cow disease worldwide are declining. They have been dropping at the rate of approximately 50 percent a year over the past three years.
In 2005, just 474 animals died of BSE around the world, compared with 878 in 2004 and 1646 in 2003, according to figures collected by the World Animal Health Organization.
It's important to remember that only three of these cases have been confirmed in the U.S.
The U.S. Department of Agriculture, working with beef industry officials, has taken a sensible approach to dealing with the reality of BSE. The USDA has pushed for a national livestock identification plan that will keep American-produced beef safe for consumers and will also protect the interests of farmers.
Alabama legislators are now weighing a bill that will assist the USDA in their goal of keeping track of livestock as they pass through every location where animals are born, managed, marketed, or exhibited.
The animal identification plan is an inexpensive and user-friendly way for producers and consumers to keep track of livestock. It involves tagging cattle with a scannable ear disk that provides information about the animal's history in case BSE or another disease is detected in the nation's beef supply.
A premise identification number will allow officials to identify the farms and businesses an animal has passed through on its way to consumers, making it possible to contain the spread of any health risks to the nation's food supply.
America's cattlemen produce the world's safest beef. Here in Alabama, cattle producers sold over $400 million worth of cattle and calves last year. Cattle are produced in every county, and cattle production represents a $2 billion industry in the state. In 2004, Alabama ranked 9th in the U.S. among all states in the number of farms with beef cows.
The threat of mad cow or any other disease that might endanger the state's livestock industry can be met with a comprehensive animal identification program. The benefits of such a program will not only profit Alabama's beef producers, but those across the nation as well.

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