Quote of the Day - Government's first duty and highest obligation is public safety.
What's wrong with this picture? Consider this: A meatpacking company in Kansas wants to test every cow it slaughters for Mad Cow Disease, but if it does, then the USDA has threatened to institute criminal prosecution proceedings. That's right. Go back and read that second sentence again. A private company wants to do more than it's required to do to protect consumers, but the government won't let it.
According to Kansas meatpacker Creekstone Farms, its Japanese customers insist that every cow be tested for bovine spongiform encephalopathy, or BSE, which we know as Mad Cow Disease. The company cites "a December 2005 poll by the Kyodo News Service[, which] found that more than half of Japanese consumers want U.S. beef to be tested for BSE." The company also said, "Creekstone simply wants to satisfy its customers," according to its press release. Somewhat surprisingly, the USDA has for two years refused to allow Creekstone access to the BSE test kits, claiming that it has exclusive authority to conduct testing. The testing would add about 10 cents to each pound of beef sold, or $20.00 per cow.
To fight back, the company, Creekstone Farms Premium Beef, LLC filed suit in Washington, D.C. challenging the USDA's ban. The USDA website has no immediate response to the lawsuit, but did post this press release about its visit to Japan asking the Japanese government to reopen its borders to American beef. The USDA reports, "Japan reopened its market to U.S. beef on December 11, 2005 but halted U.S. beef imports on January 20, 2006 after receiving a shipment of U.S. beef that posed no food safety risk but did not meet the specifications of the U.S. export agreement with Japan."
Am I missing something here?
Let's recap. We know that Japan wants all of its imported beef tested for BSE. All of it. All the time. Every single cow. Since it's not, Japan banned US beef imports.
In response to that ban, two things happened. First, a US beef exporting company voluntarily offered to test for BSE, but the USDA won't permit it. Not only will the government agency not permit the testing (which would also make beef safer for US consumers), but the USDA has also threatened to criminally prosecute the US company if it tries to test in order to comply with its customer's demands.
Second, and somewhat incongruously, the USDA has dispatched a team of negotiators to Japan to convince the Japanese government that importing US beef is safe. The only clue we have about this apparent disconnect on the government's part is a thinly-stated position that the USDA has prepared a "thorough report" showing the safety of US beef. Not even a claim that the Japanese have agreed in a treaty to allow the sporadic level of testing we have now.
MIPTC votes to prosecute the USDA for its ___________ (you fill in the blank).