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Deceptive USDA Mad Cow Ad

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  • Robert Cohen
    On August 24, 2004, the Traders Exchange Corporation (a commodity-trading firm) issued this commentary in their daily newsletter: The USDA is not doing
    Message 1 of 1 , Oct 1, 2004
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      On August 24, 2004, the Traders Exchange Corporation
      (a commodity-trading firm) issued this commentary in
      their daily newsletter:

      "The USDA is not doing anything to help detect and
      prevent mad cow disease and if the media were to
      focus on this cattle prices would be near historical

      It is no secret that USDA is working hard to prevent
      the release of Mad Cow information. Their lack of cow
      testing is inversely proportional to the number of

      I was surprised to see a paid USDA advertisement
      in the September 25, 2004 issue (Vol. 149, No. 16)
      of Hoard's Dairyman, the National Dairy Farm
      Magazine. A call to Hoard's advertising division
      revealed that the cost of that full page color ad
      to American taxpayers was $15,827.

      The content of the ad was disconcerting. USDA's
      advertisement was prominently placed on the inside
      back cover page. This issue was a special issue,
      distributed free to the 65,000 people attending
      Wisconsin's annual World Dairy Expo (September
      28-October 2, 2004). The one-time USDA ad was
      designed to reach the insiders of America's dairy

      Atop the page were two cows and a star. Beneath
      that logo appeared these words in all caps,
      announcing USDA's new program:


      (BSE stands for Bovine Spongiform Encephalitis,
      otherwise known as Mad Cow Disease.)

      In the middle of the page were these words, written
      in yellow agains a navy blue background:


      The remainder of the text was written in white letters:

      You can help
      *reassure American consumers
      *reassure foreign consumers
      *protect our herds

      For answers to your questions:
      call toll-free: 866.536.7593
      visit our website: http://www.aphis.usda.gov

      Find out how you can help
      protect America's herd.
      The ad was a contradiction in terms. Asking farmers
      to identify mad cows, and then suggesting that such
      an act would reassure American and foreign consumers
      must have had dairy readers snickering. I can read
      their minds..."Yeah, right? Destroy our own industry
      by calling attention to diseased animals? Better to
      bury Bessie in the north 40."

      I called the toll-free USDA number and spoke to a very
      nice lady. She was so cooperative that I am not going
      to print her name. Why? Because of her honesty in
      answering my very tough and pointed question.

      I asked: "If a farmer identifies a Mad Cow, wouldn't
      it be better for him to keep his mouth shut? How
      would one or more new cases of Mad Cow Disease
      reassure American or foreign consumers? Wouldn't it
      be better to shoot and bury the suspected creature?"

      I took careful notes as we spoke. I carefully wrote
      down her words. After asking whether it was in the best
      interest of a farmer to bury the dead cow, she said:

      "I guess it would be. You would want to handle it

      She gave me just her first name. We spoke for a while
      and I got her last name, too. I asked for the spelling.
      She asked why I wanted to know. Later on, she spelled
      her last name for me and referred me to Dr. Zack,
      another very pleasant person. He answered my questions
      as best as he could and referred me to USDA's legal
      department. Rather than completely waste the rest of my
      day (been there, done that, learned by experience) I
      said a pleasant goodbye. Does USDA really care about
      consumers? The following is evidence that they do not.

      How did USDA react when one slaughterhouse wanted to
      test every cow (300,000 animals)?

      Creekstone Farms is considered small by slaughterhouse
      standards. Their Kansas facility kills and processes about
      1,000 cows each day. Creekstone invested $500,000 in building
      a modern laboratory within their slaughterhouse and hired
      chemists to test each animal for Mad Cow Disease.

      By law, testing kits are distributed by USDA, but USDA
      refuses to give Creekstone the necessary kits to test
      every animal. USDA reasons that such testing is unnecessary,
      and would give Creekstone an unfair advantage in marketing
      their meat as being free of Mad Cow Disease. So? Does USDA
      really care about reassuring american consumers, as their
      ad represents? If USDA cared, they would allow Creekstone
      to test each animal. What a bunch of phonies!

      Hoard's Dairyman is read by most dairy farmers. USDA
      did not have to spell out their intent to dairymen. The
      message is clear. Identify BSE. You can help assure
      consumers. How? By not revealing a dirty secret. In cases
      of doubt, call your friendly USDA co-conspirator today:


      Robert Cohen
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