Skip to content

Northwest Iowa Dairy Outlooks

A local discussion of current science and issues concerning dairying in northwest iowa


On Tuesday USDA Chief Veterinary Officer John Clifford released a statement that read “As part of our targeted surveillance system, the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) has confirmed the nation’s fourth case of bovine spongiform encephalopathy (BSE) in a dairy cow from central California… Samples from the animal in question were tested at USDA’s National Veterinary Services Laboratories in Ames, Iowa. Confirmatory results using immunohistochemistry and western blot tests confirmed the animal was positive for atypical BSE, a very rare form of the disease not generally associated with an animal consuming infected feed.

The first U.S. case of mad cow disease in six years arrived April 18 at a Baker Commodities Inc. facility in Hanford, California, where dead livestock are held before going to a rendering plant, according to Dennis Luckey, executive vice president of operations at Los Angeles-based company. According to officials the carcass “was never presented for slaughter for human consumption, so at no time presented a risk to the food supply or human health.

The lab tests found it was an ‘atypical’ form of the disease should be seen as positive. Feed is a conduit for the transmission of the disease and if the bovine had a regular variant of the disease it may have brought into question the effectiveness of the feed ban that has been in place since 1997.

The previous case of BSE in the US was on March 15, 2006. In June 2006 cattle bottomed out not long after the outbreak and then rose sharply as beef demand, both domestic and export, was not affected. But cattle were trading at $75/cwt. then and exports made up a little less than five percent of US beef production. Today cattle are trading at $120/ cwt. and exports account for 10 percent of all beef produced here. We are also importing a lot less beef than we did in 2006 so the supply effect of exports is even more pronounced.

U.S. beef exports plunged 82 percent to 460.3 million pounds in the year following the discovery of the country’s first mad cow case in December 2003, as dozens of countries closed their borders to exports, government data show. Losses to livestock producers and meat packers including Tyson Foods Inc. and Cargill Inc. ranged from $2.5 billion to $3.1 billion annually from 2004 through 2007, the International Trade Commission has said. Nations including Japan and China have maintained some restrictions on U.S. beef imports ever since.

Cattle futures tumbled the most in 11 months in Chicago, and feeder-cattle prices fell by the exchange limit. The world’s largest beef producer, Brazil’s JBS SA, fell by as much as 5.2 percent before closing 0.3 percent lower in Sao Paulo. Tyson Foods Inc., the second-biggest U.S. beef processor, pared earlier gains to close 1.5 percent higher in New York.
In the short term, the market may play defense until it sees evidence of the effect on US consumer demand and exports.

For consumers, “The systems and safeguards in place to protect animal and human health worked as planned to identify this case quickly, and ensured that it


Tags: , ,

%d bloggers like this: