seal  Purdue News

December 29, 2003

Purdue experts comment on mad cow testing and trade issues

WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. - A national cattle identification program would help combat spread of mad cow disease, according to a Purdue University animal disease expert. But an international trade expert says the damage to the American beef industry is done at least through 2004.

Leon Thacker, Purdue veterinary pathologist and director of the Indiana Animal Disease Laboratory, said a national cattle identification system is necessary so state and federal authorities can pinpoint the origin of animals. This would allow the farm and geographic origin of animals to be traced when necessary, whether for disease or any other reason.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture has established federal requirements for meat inspection. States may have their own regulations for meat inspection, but federal law requires they be at least as stringent as USDA standards. However, almost half of the states currently don't have their own inspection agencies.

Thacker also can discuss the need for consistent inspections during slaughtering and processing.

Purdue agricultural economist Philip Paarlberg said he doesn't expect beef export levels to return at all in 2004.

"The U.S. beef export market lost to mad cow disease won't come back any time soon." Paarlberg, an international trade expert, said. "We are going to have to assure our trading partners that the beef supply is safe, and that will take time. The mad cow trade restrictions the United States imposed on Canada on May 20 remained rigid until August 8, and even then the restrictions were only partially eased.

"In the world's view, it's a North American beef market, not two separate countries," Paarlberg said.

Writer: Susan A. Steeves, (765) 496-7481,

Sources: Leon Thacker: (765) 494-7460 (office), (765)-447-6647 (home), (765)-404-5829 (cell),

Philip Paarlberg: (765) 494-4251;

Ag Communications: (765) 494-2722; Beth Forbes,
Agriculture News Page

Related Web sites:
Purdue Department of Veterinary Pathobiology
Indiana Animal Disease Diagnostic Laboratory
Indiana Board of Animal Health
United States Department of Agriculture

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